"Only 5 percent engineers in India are usable"

by Sharon Lobo    Oct 01, 2012

Samir Yajnik Tata TechnologiesAt the recently held NASSCOM Engineering Summit in Pune, NASSCOM launched a Special Interest Group (SIG) for the Construction & Heavy Engineering (C&HE) sector, which aims to radically advance industry readiness for captive consumption and meet global demand for products and design solutions from India. At this event, CXOtoday spoke Samir Yajnik, President Global Services & COO APAC, Tata Technologies, who is also the chairperson of the SIG. In a candid conversation, Samir speaks about the SIG, the challenges in engineering services outsourcing (ESO) space and the synergy the company share with other Tata firms. Excerpts

What prompted NASSCOM to launch a Special Interest Group (SIG) for the Construction & Heavy Engineering (C&HE) sector?
We believe the C&HE sector is poised to take a leadership position from the Indian market, which is currently at $5 billion and is expected to grow to $23 billion in 2020. However, this industry is immature with its engineering usage and its ability to design. Currently, a large number of foreign OEMs are trying to implement products which are successful in the western world to the Indian market, however it doesn’t work. On the other hand Indian C&HE companies haven’t invested much in R&D, which if they had, they could have come out with better, innovative, and cost-effective products. And these could be sold from India to other developing countries.
So this SIG is huge endeavour in the market as well as from an ESO point of view if applied correctly we can come out with products that are relevant for a large and growing community in C&HE space.

What are the emerging trends in the ESO space? What are the reasons driving these trends?
If you consider the auto and construction sector, emission norms is the common trend driving engineering spends. Also connectivity between products such that they should be track able and traceable. For instance the chassis and under body of a vehicle needs to be built in a cost effective and robust. There are other common trends that are driving the ESO space such as low carbon content, high amount of relevance to the product, customisable.

Indian companies always claim they have an edge over other MNC’s as they have an access to a huge talent pool. However, the fact remains that only a miniscule percent of Indian engineering graduates are industry ready? What should be done to address this issue? How can the industry pitch in?
I agree, currently only 5 percent engineers in India are usable. NASSCOM and the steering committee is debating almost everyday how to develop a path to resolve this issue. For instance we have a program called Ready Engineer, where we give relevant course to engineers so they can be industry ready before they pass out.

There are many other companies who run similar programs, however the question remains how to turn these initiatives in to a movement. I believe, this can be achieved if we target each industry vertical. Everybody knows the fundamentals, it is the application where they lack. So instead of providing general information such programs should concentrate on application of fundamentals.
For instance, there is a global shortage of aerospace engineers in Europe. So companies there either pick engineers from the automotive sector within their country or look towards aerospace engineers from countries such as India. So it is highly imperative, we need to make these freshly graduated engineers ready not only for the aerospace sector but for other industries as well.

In the ESO context, what challenges do you encounter in the Indian market that is different form the overseas market?
We need a lot of people in the advanced engineering space. It is easy for us to do the Ready Engineer program, but it is tough to build a pool of talent in the advanced engineering space as you need to have a lot of experience before you can become an expert in durability, CFD (Computational fluid dynamics) etc. Another challenge is building the proximity to core design, thereby we were not able to grow at the speed with which we could. Apart from there are governments policies that also pose a few challenges, including in the aerospace sector where rules are constantly changed and business are finding it tough to adhere to them.

What kind of synergies do you share with other Tata Group companies that are in to manufacturing?
In the automotive space we continue to learn as we work with Tata Motors and JLR (Jaguar Land Rover). It also helps us to inject talent, which allows us to build an eco-system. And we will definitely continue to leverage the group synergies.

What is your roadmap for India and how different or similar is it when compared to your global strategy?
In gives us an opportunity for doing business as well as to grow our engineering talent. We also look forward to leverage this talent to provide innovative solutions and accelerate delivery of engineering solution to companies outside of India. Additionally, we want to enable both Indian as well as foreign companies to customize their products to suit it for the Indian market.