Group discussions on addressing capacity issues
The SLASSCOM Skills Day and Industry-Academia Roundtable was held on 8 November at the Movenpick Hotel, with over 100 attendees representing academics from state and private universities, government officials and heads of knowledge services companies.
The Skills Day was organised by the Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM) and sponsored by the Export Development Board (EDB) within the National Export Strategy (NES) initiatives. The ‘Island of Ingenuity’ brand to promote Sri Lanka’s Knowledge Services industry was also launched within the NES initiatives earlier this year.
The core focus of the Skills Day was for the private sector and academia to jointly formulate innovative and proactive solutions to bridge the skills gap experienced by the industry and grow the capacity of the workforce to meet the target of 200,000 jobs by 2022, enabling $ 5 billion of industry revenue. As the industry’s success is underpinned by growing the right talent base, the SLASSCOM Skills Day was a pioneering initiative for industry-academia alignment relating talent supply.
The session opened with opening remarks by SLASSCOM Chairman Jeevan Gnanam, in which he challenged the academics present to recognise the opportunities present in the industry and grow capacity to meet this demand. EDB Chairperson Indira Malwatte next addressed the gathering. She stressed on the importance of the industry taking the lead and moving ahead, regardless of the extent of support available from the Government. She also mentioned her appreciation in seeing the collaboration within the knowledge services sector to deal with the issue of skills and capacity.
Ranil Rajapakse, Vice Chairman, SLASSCOM and Senior Vice President and COO of IFS R&D Ltd. shared on the current state of the industry, projected growth and the capacity required to sustain this growth trajectory. In his presentation, Ranil also spoke on emerging skills such as creativity, design and problem solving.
The results of the IT/BPM Industry Hot Skills Survey for 2018 was also shared at the event. Nuwan Perera, representing the SLASSCOM Technology Forum presented the findings of this year’s study using feedback from 67 SLASSCOM member companies. The surveys projected the current skills landscape and in-demand skills during the next 6 to 18-month horizon. Focusing on the ‘employability’ aspect, Chandi Dharmaratne, Board Director SLASSCOM and Director Human Resources Virtusa, presented findings from the Employability Survey which identified attributes valued in a fresh graduate by the industry.
Post these presentations, there was a series of small group discussions focusing on addressing issues within the areas of skills and capacity. It was encouraging to see the engaging discussions between the industry, academia and state institutions. Each group was provided with the opportunity to share their findings and comments. SLASSCOM Board Directors Shevan Goonetilleka, Chief Operating Officer WSO2, and Rasika Karunatilleka, Vice President and General Manager Sysco Labs, facilitated these discussions.