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India faces skills shortage as it moves closer to 5G

India's telecom and technology sector is likely to face a 28% shortfall of skilled workers in 2022, according to a recent report by the Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC) on the Indian Telecom Market 2022-23. This gap is likely to widen further with the introduction of 5G later in the year.

Over 150,000 new roles are likely to be created in areas including 5G, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile app development and robotic process automation (RPA). The TSSC's previous report said India will need 22 million skilled workers by 2025 as it moves toward 5G.

The council plans to train around 100,000 people over the next three years and open ten new centers of excellence. The TSSC was jointly set up by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), to help the sector deal with skills-related issues.

India will need 22 million skilled workers by 2025 as it moves toward 5G.
 (Source: rahul jarwal on Unsplash)
India will need 22 million skilled workers by 2025 as it moves toward 5G.
(Source: rahul jarwal on Unsplash)

The gap in available skills versus market requirements means that available professionals in these technologies are in high demand.

Revolving doors

Yet India's telecoms industry continues to face hiring difficulties – while at the same time operators lay off people with redundant skills. There have been massive layoffs over the past three years because of consolidation, and the government limiting the role of Chinese vendors.

Another sector that is likely to witness a growth in demand is satellite, as new players like Starlink and OneWeb continue to grow.

A recent TeamLease report found hiring for specialized roles grew by as much as 100%, and the sector made the highest payouts for specialist functions. In the last financial year, top roles in the telecom industry included technical architect, technical lead, network engineer, security engineer and system engineer.


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Network engineers in particular were in high demand, as the consumption of data, video and wireless services continued to grow.

Other technical skills in high demand were AI/ML, followed by optical fibers and cabling. Not surprisingly, most of the hiring last year was in the metros of Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru.

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— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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