Among the forces arrayed to thwart Indias march to the center of the world technology stage, none draws more fire from executives than the Indian educational system.
A recent study by McKinsey & Co. sponsored by Nasscom found that India will need 2.3 million IT and business process outsourcing workers by 2010, but that Indian universities wont be able to meet that need, leaving employers with a shortfall of 500,000 workers.
However, even if Indian institutions can produce graduates in sufficient numbers, Indian executives said they still will have to provide intense training.
The problem: College graduates schooled in software engineering may know Java or C++, the executives said, but they are unfamiliar with structured programming techniques essential to developing commercial software.
"The real challenge is finding [sufficient human] resources. ... The government will have to increase the quality of education," said S. "Kris" Gopalakrishnan, chief operating officer and co-founder of Infosys Technologies, at its headquarters.
Mohandas Pai, chief financial officer of Infosys, concurs.
"We have to spend enormous amounts on training," he said. "Colleges dont have good faculties and a good theoretical base."
To combine theory with hard skills, India will need to create an "innovation ecosystem" among business, universities and government, much like what is found in the United States, said S. Ramadorai, CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, in Mumbai, India.
Ramadorai also advocates an educational system that features multiple disciplines and a liberal arts framework.
"We need to reform the Indian educational system. We need less compliers and more skeptics," said Ramadorai.
Stan Gibson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.