India is grappling with a significant telecom skills shortage, with a demand-supply gap of 2.41 million workers, a figure predicted to surge to 3.8 million by 2030, according to a report released by The Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC) at the India Mobile Congress 2023.
The report highlighted a key challenge – 40 percent of India’s graduates in computer science, IT, and mathematics meet the industry’s employability criteria due to a misalignment between academic programs and industry requirements.
Currently, the Indian telecom sector employs 11.59 million individuals, including 2.95 million corporate professionals and 8.24 million blue-collar workers. The report further pinpointed the skill gap across 15 major streams, with Network Operation and Maintenance and Project Engineering having the most corporate talent, while Network Operation and Maintenance and Sales and Distribution – Service Segment had the highest number of blue-collar workers.
In preparation for the 5G era, India is projected to require 22 million skilled workers in industries focused on cloud computing, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2025. Interestingly, India is the only nation expected to have a surplus of skilled labor, with 1.3 million workers projected to be available in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) sector by 2030.
The telecom sector, India’s third-largest industry, accounts for approximately 6.5 percent of all foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow. By 2027, India is anticipated to represent 11 percent of all global 5G subscriptions.
Telecom experts believe that with the right reskilling and hiring strategies targeting talent in Tier-II and III cities and universities, India can bridge the growing demand-supply gap by 2030. Arvind Bali, CEO of the Telecom Sector Skill Council, expressed optimism about this prospect.
As the technology landscape evolves into the Web 3.0 era, the report suggests that the proportion of software in the telecom sector will triple. Anticipated trends point to the emergence of more powerful 6G network technologies, enabled by artificial intelligence, in the near future. Leveraging the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML), and the Metaverse, the telecom and tech industries are poised to reach new heights.
The report underscores the pressing need for investment in workforce development and education to meet the surging demand for skilled professionals in the telecom and technology sectors as India positions itself for a technology-driven future.