The engineer's crisis: Re-skill or face extinction (Part 1)

A recent skills and jobs survey is a harbinger to a nightmarish future that awaits the average Indian engineer.

Several days ago, I posted this article about recent trends in the job and skills landscape in India that was based on the India Skills Report 2014. However, there was one crucial component of that report that I thought was important enough to save for a fresh post.

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In a potential blow to the 600,000-plus engineering graduates that are churned out of the country's institutes, the survey unearthed a disheartening trend taking place in the hiring landscape that almost certainly spells doom for engineers. Apparently, firms are hiring more vocationally trained people and management graduates than engineering degree or diploma holders. "Even the IT and software industry plans to hire more of management graduates than other domains," the survey noted.

If you're a tech professional, you're probably not all that shocked, since you've been witnessing the steady commoditization of yourself and your tribe. Companies have begun to lean more and more towards not just someone who is a C++ guru, but also someone who understands marketing and sales.

Thanks to the cloud, today's marketing professional increasingly utilizes plug-and-play tech products, requiring very few calls to the in-house tech team to help them out . On the other hand, the average engineer working in IT has a very poor contextual sense of the environment in which he or she operates — be it the competitive landscape for the company's products, how the sales process works, or even what the annual revenues and market cap of the company is and what this means, for instance.

When tomorrow's managers will neither be marketing specialists nor tech experts, this places the engineer in a serious existential crisis.

What today's engineer desperately needs is a reboot — a reconfiguring of the skill set to ensure relevance in tomorrow's workplace. Yet, it's not so easy to do when you've spent seven to 10 years in a company, earning a healthy monthly salary, with a family to fend for, and have very little savings in the bank.

Read my next post about an innovative Indian graduate management program that may just be the antidote to the engineer's travails.