• Electrical India
  • Jul 28, 2017

CAN CHINESE POLICY MITIGATE THE PRESENT JOB CRISIS  IN OUR IT INDUSTRY?

 During  the  year  1997 – 2000, the  ‘dot-com’  bubble  or  the ‘Information Technology bubble’,  which  had   experienced  sudden extreme  growth  &  excessive  speculation  in the  use &  adaptation  of Internet  technology   in business sector,  had  suddenly collapsed in 2000-2002, resulting in  the closure  of  many  internet  based companies &  in respect of a  few  well  known  companies,   their  stock  prices  collapsed considerably  resulting  in the  loss  of jobs  for  computer  programmers  &  created a  glut  in  the   Job  market.

  Today, after  15  years,   we  read  in  the  media,  that a  similar  situation  has  crept  up in  the  I T  sector due  to digitization  &  automation  making  deeper  inroads,  many big companies  laying  off  a  large  number  of  IT Professionals.  There  is  a  deluge of professionals  who  have been  issued  pink  slips. The  reason  attributed  for this job  loss is  that  the  present  I T  workforce are  un-trainable  for  the  newly  required  skillsets for making  use  of the  new Digital  technologies &  automation that  are  being  increasingly used  in  the  upcoming industries  as  well as  a  dip  in  their  market  share  of  orders. The  situation  has  been  further  aggravated  by  Mr.Trump’s  policy -‘Jobs  for Americans’. For  the  work  force  in  the  age  group  of  thirties  with  young  families,  sudden  loss  of job,  has  come  as  a  sharp  blow  driving  them  to  despair  &  depression.

  Few  years  back, when these  youngsters  on  their  employment,  were  offered  very good starting  salaries  & perks,  which  many  of  them  have  invested  in  their  dream houses, luxury  cars, admission  of  their  kids  into well known  international  schools, living a high lifestyle  etc.,  &  suddenly, landing   themselves without a  job  with financial and emotional upheaval,   with  an added   stigma,  that  their  skillsets  are  not  suitable  for the emerging technologies, is  a  very  big  shock, rocking  their  sense  of  purpose & self esteem, ultimately  driving  them  into depression. Taking  advantage  of  this  situation, many  help  line companies / counseling  centres have  come  up offering online  services.

  Deviating  from  the  above  subject, I  would  like  to  share a  bit  of  my  experience  with Chinese  Govt.’s philosophy.   During 1990’s , I  had  the  privilege  of  working  for a leading  Steel  plant group  which  was  interested in  setting  up  a  Power plant  based  on using  the Blast  Furnace    exhaust gas  as  fuel. We  had  floated  a  global tender  inviting offers  for  the  power  plant  from  all  the leading  power  plant  builders, including  one from  China. Techno-Commercial  Offers  were  received  from  all  the  vendors.  Our management was  very  much  surprised  why we  had  floated  the  tender  to  a  Chinese Co,  since  globally,  they  had  not  executed  any  plant  till then, except in  their  own country. We  knew  that  the  Chinese  vendor   in  order  to  bag  this  maiden prestigious international order,  would  quote  their  lowest  price which  we  wanted  to  use during negotiations  to  bring down  the  price  of the  other vendors. We  invited  the  Chinese supplier  for  Techno  Commercial  negotiations. Normally  for  such   discussions,  a team of technical &  commercial  persons  numbering  about  2/3  persons  from  each  vendor, attend the  discussions  for  a  day  or  two. Surprisingly  we  received  a  letter  from  this Chinese  vendor  giving  the names of  about 16  persons  &  requested  us  to  send  an invitation  for  all  these  persons,  so  that  they  can  approach their  Govt.  for  their travel  Visas. We  asked  them  why  so  many  persons  were required  for  a  Techno commercial discussion,  we  got  a  reply  saying  that   their team  include  technocrats from  Blast  furnace, Furnace gas  handling  experts,   commercial team, Translator  etc.  & when  such  a  list  is  forwarded  to  their  Govt.  they   will  scale  down  the  number substantially  while  granting  the  Visa. This  was  something  we  had  not  experienced so far  &  as  requested  by  them,  we  sent  our  invitation  to  all  the 16  persons. Subsequently  we  got  a confirmation  from  them  that a  team  of  about  8  persons would  be  attending  the  discussions  and  we  were asked  to  arrange  for  their accommodation  in  a  nearby  hotel,  where  they  wanted  four  double  rooms (Two persons  to  stay  in  each  room) &  the  daily room  rental  incl. breakfast  for  2  persons, should  not  exceed  about 100/-US$,  in  short  400/- US$  for  the  entire  team  per day. This  limitation  was  due  to  their Govt.’s restriction in  their  daily  allowances. In  addition to  the  above  they  requested  free  transport  for  their  team.  (Comparatively , during that  time, our  Indian  engineers  were  given over  200/- US$ /day  when  deputed abroad.) The  purpose  of  explaining  this here  is,  that  the  philosophy  of  Chinese  Govt. was  to  send  as  many  persons  as  possible at  the  lowest  cost,  providing  them exposure  to techno - commercial  discussions /   their  visit  to  our integrated steel  plant in  general  &  Blast  furnace  in  detail etc.

  Subsequently  I  had  to  attend  a  technical  meeting  with  General Electric Co. USA (Power  plant  Division). When I  landed  at  their  plant, I  saw  two  bus  loads  of  Chinese delegation  numbering about 35 / 40  persons  getting  down from  the  buses  &  walking into  the GE  plant. When I  met  the  GE  official, on  casual  enquiry,  he  informed  me that  GE  had  received  an order from  the  Chinese Govt.  for  two  identical  Power  plants &  under  the  terms  &  conditions  of  the order  GE  had  to  train  about  40  Engineers  in various  fields  of  the  Power  plant  project  for  about 4/5  months. Out  of  this  team  I had  seen  several  persons of  the  age  group 60+  &  I  was  informed  that  these seniors were  Professors  from  Chinese  University  to  be  trained  by  GE  on  the  latest Power Plant  technology. These  Professors  after  going  back,  will  have  to  introduce  the  new technology  into  their  university  syllabus. Regarding  accommodation,  he  informed  me that  all  of  them  were  provided  a  hostel  with  a Common  kitchen  &  cooking facilities. 

  From  the  above  two  instances, the  objective  of  the  Chinese  Govt., was  not  only  to   get  exposure  of  training  to  as  many  engineers  as  possible  at  the  lowest  cost,  but also  utilize  it  for  upgrading  the  syllabus  at  their  universities.   With  this  philosophy, it  is  no  wonder  China  has  progressed  very  fast  in  the  field  of  technology.

  Coming  back  to  the  present  situation  of Indian  I T  sector laying  off their  employees giving  not  even  24  hrs. of  notice, is  rather  very  inhuman. (Recent  conversation between  an  HR  person  &  an  helpless employee  which  went  viral in  media  is a glaring example  of this  inhuman  attitude). On  one  side,  the Senior  executives  like  CEO’s, COO’s, CFO’s  etc., get  a  salary  rise  of  300% to 400%   and  in  the  same  organization many  are  given  pink  slips  on  the  pretext  of lack  of skillsets  in  the  new  technology, lack  of  orders etc.,   causing financial and emotional upheaval  in  the  lives  of  the youngsters. It  is  high time  that  IT  sector  review  their  thinking.  

  In  a  scenario  where  the  organization  is  experiencing  lack  of  orders  due  to  the newly  emerging  technology in  the  fields  of  Digitization & Automatiom / Artificial Intelligence  etc., instead  of  laying  off  valuable  human  resources  on  one  side  to  cut the  cost  &  on  the other side paying  very  huge  increase  In  salaries  to top  officials   will  only  demoralize  the  entire  organization, instead, the  thinking   should  be   other way.  During  such a  period  of    crisis, reduce  the  salary  levels  marginally  of  all  the employees  in  general,  &  the  seniors  should  volunteer  to  forego  more  from  their salary  and  from  the  savings  thus  achieved, instead  of  laying  off,  the  employees should  be  trained  to  acquire  the  new  skills  required  by  the  industry. This  sort  of sacrifice  from  top  to  bottom  during  a  period  of  crisis,  will  be  appreciated  by  all  the employees  and  would  motivate  them  to  work. The  above  concept  of  the  Chinese Govt. to    distribute  the  available  resources   among  more  number  of  persons,  to acquire  the  skill &  technology is  really  going  to  benefit    organizations  in  the  long run. Why not this concept  be  tried  to  mitigate  the  job crisis in our  IT Industry?.


Author:

 (Author: C.V.Govinda Raju,  (Former)  Executive Director  of  Karnataka  Vidyuth  Karkhane  Limited  & (Former)  President  of  ISPAT  Group  Company)