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Saturday, 15 April, 2000, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
India at risk of tech worker shortage
India broker
India's technology sector has been booming
By Daniel Lak in Delhi

India's booming information technology sector is facing a potential shortage of skilled workers.

The National Association of Software and Service Companies has said the current supply of information technology workers is just adequate.

But it warned there could be worker shortages in excess of two million in the next seven years.

India is counting on information technology to create millions of new jobs and add billions of dollars to export earnings in the coming years.

Yet it appears that unless more training and investment in education is made available, there may not be enough skilled workers to meet these ambitious goals.

The software association's head, Deewang Mehta, said even a tenfold increase in the number of trained computer professionals could be absorbed by the booming information technology sector.

US demand

Most of the top schools producing computer and software workers send their graduates abroad to the United States and Europe, where Indian high technology professionals are very much in demand.

Indian brokers
Investors fled from tech stocks after Nasdaq's fall
Washington has recently promised to increase the number of visas for highly-skilled computer workers.

Germany has said it is considering a similar scheme to meet its own shortage of IT professionals.

Indian companies say they cannot compete with their counterparts abroad on salaries or benefits, although computer companies here pay well above national norms, even at the top end of the scale.

This is all happening while India's unemployment rate among unskilled workers is soaring.

Economists say the only answer is a massive investment in primary and secondary education.

But, with the Indian budget deep in deficit for years to come, it is hard to see where the money is going to come from.

This will be a real test of the government's commitment to making India an information technology superpower by the year 2010 - a promise made repeatedly by ministers in recent months.

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