Sri Lanka is no stranger to the effects of the fourth industrial revolution. Advances in technology have drastically changed Sri Lankan society. Today, with a few taps on our phones, we have instant access to cabs, food and groceries. A click of a button brings anything we want to our doorsteps! We have naturally adapted to shifting to digital channels for working, sourcing food and entertaining ourselves.
These trends will only continue to grow as Sri Lanka continues to delve deeper into the digital future. The digital future – fueled by the fourth industrial revolution, offers many promising opportunities especially for the youth of Sri Lanka. However, according to the latest statistics, the digital literacy rate in Sri Lanka stands at only 46%. This is a clear indicator that work needs to be done to level this gap and empower Sri Lanka’s youth to seize the opportunities offered by a digital future.
HCL’s TechBee is a holistic skilling and training program that encourages, empowers and enables Sri Lanka’s youth to contribute positively to their country’s growth by equipping them with practical skills needed for the digital future. This program marks an important step in addressing the skills gap issue which exists in Sri Lanka today.
ICT literacy – The way forward
Information and Communication Technology, or ICT, involves the access, processing and communication to filter valuable information from the noise of data. ICT exists at the core of every business – from ordering food online, to hailing a ride or running advanced simulations to predict the weather. It all comes down to the processing of data in the 0’s and 1’s of computers. Currently, the global IT industry is valued at $5.2 trillion due to the prominence of digital technology.
Traditionally, the use of technology in education increased gradually as students went from primary to high school and onto college. In practice, this means students learned to use technology very slowly. This slow pace has left a massive gap in the education system – namely, a failure to teach students the much-needed skills to be competent in digital environments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only increased this gap more. Universities and other educational institutions have turned to rely heavily on technology more than ever before. Skills such as typing, using spreadsheets, graphic design, and basic programming have become necessary even at a young age. Early exposure to such activities helps train students to understand the concept of computers, the internet and machine learning; skills that will hold them in good stead for the digital tomorrow.
What are the avenues an ICT education opens?
An ICT education paves the basis for understanding advanced technology used by IT professionals to solve complex problems at any scale or simply just create an overall more straightforward way of getting things done. Therefore, adequate mentoring in this field equips a student with the skills necessary to utilise this knowledge in various business applications.
Increasingly, entire industries across the globe are undergoing digital transformation. This drive towards digitalisation requires complex IT systems that can digitally transform businesses. This trend will continue well into the years as we enter a digital future. Hence, there is a growing need for talented software engineers that can build these systems and make the magic happen behind the screen. Therefore, having an ICT background in the field of software engineering holds the promise of a lucrative career path for students.
Of course, building such complex IT systems is a serious undertaking. Before software engineers begin writing code, the requirements of such systems must be clearly identified. Identifying these requirements falls on IT analysts who sit down with businesses to guide them through their digital transformation. As the technology industry grows, continued demand for IT analysts means that demand for these professionals will continue to grow.
Ultimately, there’s a world of opportunities for those with comprehensive ICT skills. Bridging the skills gap and empowering the youth of today to be IT leaders of tomorrow requires a concerted effort from various members of the tech ecosystem in Sri Lanka including government, industry and education. HCL Technologies with the support of the Sri Lankan government is committed to equalizing this gap and empowering the youth of Sri Lanka.
HCL Technologies Sri Lanka
HCL Technologies is a $10 billion global technology giant, offering services in IT and Business, Engineering and R&D, and Products and Platforms. The company is a leader in numerous industry verticals such as Financial Services, Manufacturing, Technology & Services, Telecom & Media, Retail & CPG, Life Sciences & Healthcare and Public Services.
The company began its operations in Sri Lanka earlier this year and is committed to creating 3,000+ jobs in three to five years. Despite the challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HCL Sri Lanka has already hired 500+ individuals over the last two quarters of the year. Roles in Application & Product Development, Digital Technologies, Networking & Cloud Solutions and Infrastructure Services were created by HCL The company is now extending these opportunities to high school graduates with a pathway that offers a door into the IT industry with the promise of a bright future.
HCL Techbee – Developing ICT literacy in Sri Lanka
HCL is one of the pioneers of Skilling & Early Career Programs in India – Tech Bee programs, strategically address the ‘skills gaps in the industry’ by skilling youth to take on early careers after high school – while giving them an option to get a college degree.
In this model, the classroom is the real-time tech world and this is a fantastic opportunity for students to see how what they learn – gets practically applied! Having successfully established this model in India, HCL has brought Tech Bee to Sri Lanka to give students who have completed their A-level programs to get skilled and placed in their first IT job – alongside the option of getting an accredited college degree as well.
At the core of the program is the idea of seeding responsibility in the youth of today to become the leaders of tomorrow. Tech Bee will inspire the Sri Lankan youth to develop a single-minded focus for excellence, ‘earn while they learn’, become fiscally responsible from a young age and contribute positively to Sri Lanka’s economic growth.
With a minimum requirement of 3 S-passes for A/L’s, entry into the program is entirely merit-based. All eligible students will have to take an online Career Aptitude Test (HCL CAT) to check their aptitude in Quantitative Reasoning (Mathematics), Logical Reasoning and English language.
After passing the exam, shortlisted candidates will go onto the interview stage. Once accepted into the 12-month programme, where students will undergo classroom training, followed by an internship period. During this internship period, they will receive on-the-job experience along with a monthly stipend. Upon completing the Techbee programme, students can begin working as full-time IT Engineer, Software Developer, or Services professional at HCL with a competitive salary, according to the Techbee website.
There are several career roles open to Techbee students, including application & software development, infrastructure management support, and more. Students can pursue their higher education through HCL’s partnership with Horizon Campus. HCL’s ‘earn while you learn’ benefit enables students to receive an educational allowance of LKR 100,000 per year. Tech Bee offers students a career path where in the period of five years; they will not only have an accredited degree but also have a degree and four years of industry experience. HCL TechBee will continue to expand in Sri Lanka in the years to come.
Introducing the programme, Corporate Vice President of HCL Technologies, Srimathi Shivashankar, said, “We are delighted to launch TechBee in Sri Lanka. The youth represent the future, and skilling is the best way for local talent to take up the global demand in ICT positions. TechBee is a one-of-a-kind skilling programme and a testament to our company’s resolve to build a skilled and employable talent pool. We are excited by the opportunities Sri Lanka offers and look forward to skill and scale our business operations here. We have hired over 500 people in the last six months, and we’re expecting this number to grow dramatically. We look forward to contributing to Sri Lanka’s nation-building activities and working with Horizon Campus in the years to come.”
“In today’s world, technology is a major disrupter. The constantly evolving sphere of IT requires a talent pool that can adapt and be skilled for in-demand roles and learn along the way,” said Chief Human Resources Officer at HCL Technologies, Apparao V V. He continued, “We embed this culture of innovation and ideapreneurship™ in our TechBee scholars through various means. We allow them to be CEOs of their ideas. We have multiple cohorts who join us and are prepared for entry-level positions working on HCL’s global projects. We have partnered with premier universities to ensure TechBees’ continue their higher education through work-integrated learning programmes.”
“It gives me immense pride to see the commitment demonstrated by HCL in developing the ecosystem for the youth of Sri Lanka. It is heartening to see that a global brand like HCL is aligning their programmes to the mission of the government of Sri Lanka for creating a strong and robust human capital in the region,” said Sanjaya Mohottala, Chairman of the Board of Investment, Sri Lanka.