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Software Career : Manpower Requirements

The manpower requirements for a people-intensive industry like software to meet such targets will surely be mind-boggling. 

Overall Manpower Requirements

Such a scorching pace of expansion within a short time has created serious demand-supply imbalance for software professionals. Most of the developed countries are facing shortage of trained software professionals. 

Japan is anticipating a shortage of close to a million Systems Engineers by the end of the century. In USA 350,000 job vacancies exist for Computer Programmers, Systems Analysts and Computer Engineers in companies with 100 or more employees. As against the annual requirements of a minimum of 95,000 people with computer degrees, America is producing only about 25,000.

Immigration laws are being relaxed to correct the imbalance. Indian situation is no better. High attrition rate, over 20%, and galloping cost of people are symptoms of tightening market conditions for software personnel in the country.

Some of the best software professionals around the world are seen to be Indians. According to Bill Gates:

'India produces more world-class progra-mmes than any other country on earth'.

'The world looks up to India to create hundreds of thousands of top-notch professionals'.

According to V.K. Thadani, President, NIIT Ltd. (former President of Manufacturers Association of Information Technology), world has the potential to absorb 100,000 Indian Software Engineers right now and another 50,000 every year over the next 5 years. Domestic requirements are, of course, over and above these needs.

Out of the current annual crop of degree and diploma holders in IT discipline, about 60,000, only about 16,000 come from the primer institutions. If India has to sustain its competitive advantage and, at the same time, move up the value chain, the country has to quickly address the twin problem of manpower shortage and shortage of required skills.

Shortage of software professionals has spawned a Rs. 750 crores boom industry in training promoted by nimble-footed entrepreneurs. These short-term and medium-term courses of varying quality have been thriving mainly on three technologies: GUI, in Superhighways and Client-server Systems and job-oriented courses such as desktop publishing, multimedia, CAD and financial accounting.

Software industry has not been very impressed with the quality of the professionals produced by the non-formal sector. Software export industry meets less than 5% of its requirements form this source. 

Lack of good faculty, poor entry level screening of students and commercial goals-driven approach are the alleged reasons for the poor quality of the output. Arts, commerce or even Science graduates with diplomas from private computer training institutions will have a tough time getting the right jobs in the software development sector.

Those trained in the non-formal sector find openings as analysts/ programmers and marketing personnel in computer companies and with hardware/software vendors; as system administrators, network managers and database administrators in user sectors; in the growing Internet applications including as Web-pages creators; and in the Multimedia segment.

No technology is subject to as profound changes within as short a time as IT; It keeps reinventing itself all the time. New technologies give rise to new applications which demand new skill sets.

Technologies currently on the ascent include: The increasing use of Computer-aided Software Engineering (CASE), and fourth Generation Languages (4GLs) in software development; the adoption of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) as the standard user interface; growing use of Internet and applications development on Internet; end-users shifting towards open systems; use of object Oriented Programming techniques; the emergence of Client/Server computing (the basis for 70% to 80% of all new software applications) and the most recent shift to Client/Network; high growth in packaged software; and the use of formal software development methodologies.

The hottest eight titles in the USA, the global trend-setter, ranked by top employers of software professionals have been:

Systems Administrator; C++ Application Developers; Database Developer; Visual basic/Windows Developer; C Application Developer; Architect (OO Designer); OO Project Manager; Smalltalk Developer.

The remarkable growth of distributed software has turned the software development hierarchy upside down. Systems Administrators have become extremely valuable because of the complexity of networked environments. Good application Developers, especially those with skills in object-oriented development, continue to be rated high.

Knowledge of both Unix and Windows is a marketable combination. On the client side GU I development of Windows is a hot field.

C++ is the predominant language in the client server arena. Visual C++ and then Visual Basic have become the languages of choice followed by the Power Builder development environment.

Oracle and Sybase are the databases of choice and application developers/programmers are in great demand.

Software development organisations have become increasingly quality conscious and demand for quality assurance personnel is growing rapidly. Testing, quality assurance, process standarisation and predictable software projects are becoming very important.

Information superhighways "the richest, most diverse, borderless, sleepless market place the world has ever seen" will be an area of explosive growth. Connectivity tools and Web applications will witness huge market expansion. 

Internet service providers and Web startups are absorbing large number of professionals. HTMl, CGI and Perl are hot sought-after skills. So is Java; because Java programmes are totally cross Platform and Operating Systems and fully upgradable.

Associated areas of software growth are data communications, telecommunications and Internet Connectivity.

This sector will have a huge appetite for Web Writers/visualisers/Strategists, Intranet Project Managers, Internet Business Consultants, Creative Programmers, E-Commerce Product Managers, Multimedia Designers, Intranet Systems Integrators and Multilingual Publishers.

IT-Enabled Services collectively could well be a large foreign exchange earner for India once the country ensures globally competitive telecommunications infrastructure. These services would include call centres, technical support centres; medical trascription; data processing in banks, accounting and financial services companies, stock exchanges , mutual funds etc; and graphic information systems, content publishing, creation of Web pages, multimedia and multimedia databases.

This sector will establish a large number of small and medium scale enterprises essentially on the low end of technology scale. Bright graduates with good written/spoken communication skills in English with an aptitude for computers will form the core of workforce in this sector.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is one of the fastest growing segments of IT industry. For SAP (the most popular technology) trained professionals in the US, the salaries range from $80,000 to $90,000 per annum. For professionals trained in other ERP Packages such as Oracle Application, PeopleSoft and Bann the range is $45,000-$80,000 per annum.

An ERP Consultant has to have a strong exposure to one of the functional areas of business; have an operational knowledge of other functional areas, be IT savvy; and have soft skills like communications, being a team player etc. Obviously, a rare breed!

Multimedia as a technology has touched more user segments than most other technologies: advertising, publishing, Internet and Intranet Service Providers, Software Development Centres, Media and Entertainment. Visual Programming (visual + sound + animation + text) calls for proficiency in Unix or NT as well as familiarity with the use of Software tools like Autodesk Animator, 3D Studio, Adobe Photoshop etc.

Virtual Reality and next-generation embedded systems are round the corner.

Swapnil Solanki 

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