In the middle of a gloomy employment scenario in the telecom sector, the Telecom Sector Skills Council (TSSC), the skill development body formed by the National Skill Development Corporation and telecom players, says that the sector is expected to add over 10 million jobs over the next five years. At present, the sector employs over 4 million people - directly and indirectly.
TSSC CEO S.P. Kochhar says that that demand for employment will come from new areas such as mobile manufacturing, machine-to-machine, big data, automation and IoT (internet of things). The 10-million figure seems over the top given that the sector, which has been in existence for several decades, employs 4 million people. In the next five years, it could generate 2.5 times more jobs. "We have got these numbers from the industry," says Kochhar adding that "the spurt will happen due to the new policies [of the government]. The tele-density is improving, and more people are switching to smart phones. That's fuelling the demand for manufacturing in India," he says.
Not just mobile manufacturing, there's has been a significant shift in the manufacturing of phone accessories to India. "Because of various reasons, people are shifting out of China, and they are looking at different places to set up manufacturing facilities. India is one of the best choices for them," he says.
Kochhar says that the telecom is no longer about voice. It is shifting towards data which is creating new types of jobs. In the traditional space, things are getting automated which is changing the existing job profiles and leading to upskilling. Many of the things which required human intervention are now getting automated. At the same time, new types of jobs are emerging.
For instance, network management used to be the most crucial job profile in the sector which required domain specialists. But with the emergence of languages like Python, network management is getting automated. The existing workforce in the network management jobs have to migrate to newer jobs where they will be dealing with data. "In the traditional space, there will be changes [in the job profiles] but there will not be an increase in the numbers [of jobs]. Traditional jobs, including network management and laying down infrastructure, will change. We will see entrepreneurs coming up, selling services to the telecom companies rather than getting employed," he says.
In the 10-million job opportunities, TSSC includes a host of areas: passive infrastructure (towers, fibre), active infrastructure (switches, radios and routers), telecom services, services and maintenance (customer support, call centres, e-waste management), and some sectors which are connected to telecom. "There are a lot of services which are enabled by telecom. Telecom is a horizontal play. The distinction between IT, telecom and cyber security is blurring," says Kochhar.