India's ICT sector has grown meteorically in the last two decades, making it an important lever of employment for the next generation of workers

Opening remarks by Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, ILO DTW-South Asia and Country Office for India at the Global Research Webinar "Towards a brighter future of work in the digital economy"

Statement | Online | 25 May 2022
Good afternoon it is a pleasure to open today’s webinar titled, Towards a brighter future of work in the Indian digital economy

A special warm welcome to representatives from the various ministries of Government of India- (Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Education University Grants Commission, Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship), representatives from social partners- employers’ organizations and workers organizations; civil society organizations, academia, students’ and all other stakeholders. I would also like to welcome my colleagues from Geneva – who will be speaking at the webinar today about their research project on ‘The future of Work in ICT’.

Today’s economy is deeply shaped and transformed by the rapid technological developments driven using ICT. In this context, ICT skills have become critical to a growing digital economy.

India is particularly impressive in this regard:
  • According to data from MEITY, India’s ICT sector grew dramatically – it accounted for only 1.2 per cent of GDP in 1998 and more than 7.9 per cent of GDP in 2018
  • Especially for India, this growth has been driven primarily by the IT service sub-sector
  • While ICT specialists only account for 3 per cent of the national workforce, nominally India has many ICT specialists. The IT industry of India employs approximately 10 million workers.
  • Two opposing trends in the ICT market can also be observed worldwide. On the one hand, the most powerful global companies are headquartered outside India and Southeast Asia. On the other hand, India as well as other countries in the region are experiencing growth in the number of ICT start-ups being established domestically

For this growing sector, India will continue to see an increased demand for ICT specialists and will need to scale up investments in their skills.
  • At the same time, India is also significantly affected by emigration as it has the largest diaspora of individuals living outside of their homeland.
  • Increasingly, Indian ICT specialists have also begun to migrate to non-English speaking countries.
  • While there are concerns about this migration of high-skilled talent, we are also seeing an increase in ‘temporary migration’ and notice the willingness among young talent to find jobs in the ICT sector of India.

It is however important to note that the covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the growth of digital economy but it might have also changed the trends that I have described above.

The findings we will be presenting today are from a global research project conducted from 2017 until 2020. The research aims provide a snapshot of the demand and supply of digital talent, whether migration also is a driving factor in the shortage/ surplus of talent in 7 countries, namely: Canada, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.

Since the creation of this report there are changes that have emerged and we are looking forward to hearing from the various participants today on their views on this, and how the ILO could further support the rapid changes in demand and supply of skilled workers in the sector.

We would like to thank colleagues for this extensive study and looking forward to an engaging presentation and multi-stakeholder discussion today.