Non-tech, soft skills to be as important for tech firms as digital skills

Pune: Even as the demand for tech talent continues to remain high, not only in the IT sector, companies will need to relook at the kind of skills they are hiring for.

“As we work remotely, you need very different leadership skills. As we work with machines, we need different human skills like critical thinking and reasoning,” said Rekha Menon, Chairperson, Accenture India. She was speaking on how to build India’s talent pool along with Ronnie Screwvala, chairperson, at Microsoft Future Ready.

Menon said that the demand for tech talent in India was currently about eight times more than the supply, and while the skill gap wasn’t a new thing, the demand for digital skills was coming from non-tech industries as well. There been a huge increase in demand for digital skills globally, which India is fulfilling.

It is equally important to focus on soft skills, said Screwvala. “We’re missing the balance that everyone is looking for and that’s adding a lot of stress. There’s no point being a data scientist if you can’t get through the interview,” he said. While communication is the most visible, it is the overall ability to present your ideas and participate in meetings and having a point of view, which requires self-confidence.

While we have redefined a lot of things, we are still to redefine the way in which we think, communicate and execute, and here, being strong on soft skills can help create a new kind of competitive advantage. Menon said that Accenture had made the shift, starting to hire people from liberal arts and anthropology backgrounds because a creative and multidisciplinary approach is what the industry needs.

Bringing about the kind of change that is needed would require a collaborative approach across industry and government. Screwvala said that this would also require a mindset change from being process driven to driving innovation. Menon pointed out that a lot of innovation was already being done from the centres of excellence that operate in India, and a lot of which was being driven locally and being sent to the rest of the world.

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