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‘Old’ IT skills still relevant in India

PUBLISH DATE 27th October 2018

In a world where reskilling and acquiring newage skillsets have become the route to stay relevant, technology services companies are still recruiting candidates with expertise in older software languages such as Cobol, Fortran and C++. Experts say the demand for these are unlikely to wither away anytime soon. “A majority in India still work on legacy platforms. For the clients (of IT outsourcing companies), these have to be upgraded and maintained,” Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder of staffing firm Team-Lease, told TOI.

The Indian IT industry started gaining prominence in the early 1990s when multinational corporations started outsourcing basic, back-end engineering work to the country. Many of the systems being used then are still operational. Chakraborty lists Cobol, Sybase SQL and Fortran among skills which are dated but whose demand is still hot. “Java is eternal and the core. You cannot learn any coding if you haven’t done it,” she says.

Kamal Karanth, founder of HR consulting firm Xpheno, says there is a demand for both new and old. Chaitanya Sreenivas, HR head at IBM India and South Asia, agrees. “Some new technology is stacked on top of the old. It gives you a good foundation if you have the old skillsets. But you also want them to learn the new skills, which is most important,” he said.

Newer programming languages include those like Python and Ruby on Rails, which are used to build web applications, desktop apps, network servers, and for machine learning. There’s also Apple’s Swift programming language. Viral Shah, cofounder and chief executive of Julia Computing, describes Java as the “continuous workhorse”. “Similarly C++ is very much relevant and PHP powers the entire world’s websites,” Shah said. IBM’s Sreenivas says that the need to adopt new-age technology is more pressing on businesses facing consumers, such as retail, banks, airlines and hospitality, while sectors such as manufacturing are still some time away from adopting these technologies broadly. IT services companies say new clients require new technology and thus new skills, while older clients tend to continue as they are until they decide at some point to make a switchover. “If I hire people now just for the old, I know for a fact that they will not last too long,” says Sreenivas.

 

Inputs : TOI

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