Modi visit: 1,000 UK graduates head to India for IT internships

Beneath the headlines, handshakes and photo-ops there’s the overlooked detail of what these high-profile visits are about: deals.

Everyone knows that India leads the world in IT, but not so long ago – 1997, in my case – perhaps the main reasons why young Brits would go to India would be to go backpacking, or to visit family. And vice versa, though replace backpacking with studying.

Which makes the rather topical announcement today (13 November) by global giant Tata Consultancy Services and the British Council both remarkable, and not: it makes perfect sense.

A thousand British university graduates will spend a year training and working for Tata at its Innovation Labs and software development centres all over India. The interns will learn about and work in software development, global consulting, business process management and human resources. Applications for the internships will open in the coming months, with the first of them to start in the summer of next year.

Apparently, there’s a shortfall in the UK of 40,000 graduates in tech, science, engineering and maths every year (source: Social Market Foundation), hence business and higher education’s horror at outside-EU immigration crackdown rhetoric; while employment opportunities in the UK IT sector are to grow at almost double the UK rate up to 2020 (source: the Tech Partnership).

It seems to be part of a British Council programme called Generation UK-India, to foster these kinds of partnerships, which before 2020 aims to support 25,000 young Brits with experience and skills learned from the subcontinental powerhouse.

Another surprise: Tata Consultancy Services has been operating in the UK since 1975 and is now one of the biggest digital employers with more than 11,000 employees in 30 places, including London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough, Swindon, Redhill and Liverpool.

Here’s what folks had to say about the internships:

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of the British Council, said: “This partnership marks a great new phase in the UK’s developing relationship with India.  It is fantastic that a thousand young graduates from across the UK will be able to benefit from India’s expertise in digital technology and also gain invaluable international experience working at TCS, one of the world’s largest technology consultancy organisations. India is emerging as a global superpower and initiatives such as this will enable the next generations in both countries to engage, learn and grow with each other.”

N Chandrasekaran, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services, said: “As a technology partner to many large British businesses, we see their desire to exploit new and exciting opportunities presented by digital technologies. However, all too often, our customers are unable to do this quickly as the UK talent pool needs knowledge and training in these new technologies. By providing 1,000 British graduates with the opportunity to work and train with TCS, we hope to help address this skills shortage and give UK employers access to the digital expertise that they will need to compete and succeed in the hyper-connected Digital Economy.”

Lord Maude, UK Trade and Investment Minister, said: “The UK and India have a strong, successful trade relationship. Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UK this week demonstrates our commitment and ambition to collaborate further. Both countries have a wealth of talent and expertise to share and I am pleased to see so many UK and Indian companies announcing deals this week. By working in partnership we can deliver real benefits and job creation for both of our economies.”

If I’d been able to intern for Tata in India on finishing my degree back in 2001 I would have leaped at the chance. But, oddly enough, I’m not sure English literature and a Master’s in Romanticism is what the global IT market is looking for…

More: www.britishcouncil.in/generationuk and www.britishcouncil.org/study-work-create-india

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About James Willsher

Newspaper and magazine reporter since 2004, has freelanced in Russia and Central Asia, and does local government PR. Likes green tea and interviewing people / places. Phil Garrett was a pen name. @JGWillsher jamesgwillsher@hotmail.co.uk
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