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How hands-on experience will prepare programmers for the jobs of tomorrow

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The rise in disruptive technologies and the resulting automation of processes across industries has brought about a shift from the question of availability of jobs to whether even current jobs will cease to exist – rendering existing programmers jobless. 

The fact is, this technological wave will create several new jobs and functions, where the roles of human teams will simply have to be realigned. The tech industry, in particular, will be impacted by this change, and programmers, engineers need to be equipped with relevant skill-sets to land the right jobs.

The current scenario of programmers

As per a McKinsey report, as a result of the ongoing technology boom, the emerging tech world is likely to produce 25 to 50 million jobs globally, of which India will have to account for 6 to 12 million jobs. Recent research suggests that there are over 1.5 million engineers graduating every year in India. 

Of these, 80% are unemployed, and an estimated 45% have the potential to be made employable with the right training. This indicates that a large portion of programmers come out of their college education and other online courses without being equipped with the right skills. 

A study conducted by analytics firm Aspiring Minds suggests that less than 5% of engineers can write correct logic and an even lower number (1.4%) could code correctly. Additionally, even the skills of existing engineers in the field are being rendered redundant as a result of rapid technological advancements in areas such as AI, ML, and the Cloud. This will require strategic reskilling and up-skilling, in order to maintain a skill-set amongst engineers that is at par with industry standards. 

The ‘experience’ gap among programmers

A recent study conducted with over 1000 fresh engineers revealed that the most common reason for not being able to secure a tech job is their lack of confidence in their ability to code. The major factor at play is that most engineers do not have adequate hands-on experience pertaining to the skill-sets that emerging tech jobs require. 

The tech industry and the companies that hire software developers today requires engineers to be well-versed with a mix of multiple coding languages and frameworks. However, though the Indian education system has many options for reskilling and up-skilling, it most often neglects the need for more practical, experiential learning. 

According to a report by online learning platform Developer Skills, there is a gap between the skills and frameworks that are focused on in education versus the needed for the professional world. This makes it difficult for companies to hire software developers.

The road ahead for the programmers

Whether it’s Medicine, Chartered Accountancy or Law, each professional program involves forms of practical exposure so that to-be professionals can get a feel of the real-world application of their subjects. 

Additionally, they involve forms of continuous mentorship and evaluation where, under expert guidance, the understudy is able to learn by researching and experimenting by themselves. This ensures that they are prepared for various scenarios and can find solutions that are applicable to real problems. 

Engineering education needs to be built upon a similar framework in mind. It requires hands-on learning at different stages, including projects that add real value to their solutions. Additionally, there is a need for guidance from industry experts to expose students to the versatile application of subject matter. These need to be carried out while keeping in mind the specific requirements of the industry or project the engineers aim to get into in the future. 

Combining these factors of value-addition, experiential learning and mentorship will facilitate the creation of a pool of Indian engineers that are equipped with relevant skill-sets. This will help to make fresh graduates directly employable for a wider range of jobs in the tech industry and grab high paying jobs in Bangalore, Mumbai, and other cities. 

Additionally, the same formula can be applied to hire software developers in the field, where they can re-skill and up-skill to meet the latest requirements of their roles. In the long run, this model of hands-on training is what will enable both fresh and experienced engineers to effectively adapt, and thereby contribute, to the dynamic needs of the industry.

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