India has turned out to be the flavor of the season, for reasons other than President’s Obama’s visit last week as a chief guest for India’s Republic Day Parade. Historically, India has been seen as a developing country which would be hampered by its massive population exceeding a billion. But of late, the realization dawned on everyone that India actually has the highest number of young people below the age of 25. India also has more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students than any other country in the World. A combination of these two factors is seen to herald a situation where India will be exporting the talent that the world needs, in the not too distant future.
India offers talent as well as great cost efficiency, thanks to the fact that the American Dollar is valued at about sixty five Indian Rupees in the exchange market. India also presents many advantages when compared to many countries in terms of the availability of contingent workers. India leads in the low wages of contingent workers and lowest manufacturing wages too, when compared to countries like China.
Indian laws do not offer a great deal of protection to its workers in matters of discrimination, overtime and work conditions. But they do offer paid vacations, sick leave and maternity leave along with the mandatory National Holidays. These holidays may be observed differently among India’s 29 states and 7 union territories. The number of holidays in India is a cause for concern for companies which wish to set up operations, but the Indian government does allow corporations to tailor their holiday list to suit their particular requirements.
The cultural ethos in India encourages women to focus more on family and less on career, even though they are in no way inferior to men in their educational attainment. This makes women engage in work which causes the least interference to their household duties and responsibilities. Temporary assignments are viewed by many as an ideal choice for many of these women. In addition, many women are able to work from home, performing medical transcription and other data entry jobs. Content creation jobs demanding language skills as well as niche knowledge and research skills are also taken up by such women. Encouraging these women, as well as students who wish to pay their way through college, could unlock access to diverse skills and abilities.
Hiring workers on a contingent basis in India offers a strategic advantage and major opportunity for improved productivity, talent development and employee engagement. But few companies are prepared to exploit it. In India, base compensation is competitive, and valued highest, followed by bonuses and merit-based rewards. Vacation and holiday paid time off is also valued and expected. Career growth and opportunities for learning and development also rank high on the list of desired employer attributes. Indian companies which focus on creating a brand image as employers ensure that their Learning & Development departments are emphasized, while offering sabbaticals to get that post-graduate degree or management degree. Many even subsidize the fees, if the worker commits to return and work for them, for a certain period. These considerations and choices may not impact the employee engagement with contingent workers who may place greater value on flexibility.
Bridging the Talent Gap:
A valid concern about the availability of Indian labor is the way general education in India prepares individuals for careers in skilled trades. While degrees and white collar jobs are highly valued, vocational training and blue collar jobs have always been relegated to the back burner. So, we find more qualified engineers than well-trained plumbers, electricians and such in India, even from the Government sponsored training institutes.
As of now, it could be said with confidence that India offers great talent in software programming, cloud computing, research and analytics, and mobile applications. Employers who have built brand presence can choose the crème de la crème of talent. India is looking to add 12 million new workers per year to its labor market in the coming years. Employers around the global struggling to find great technical and professional talent should consider offering apprenticeships and strategize to tap into this talent source.
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