Most of the Electronics Engineers mainly give up searching for core jobs, especially because they have no idea about the skillsets required or the key factors that a company looks for. If answers to these questions are provided, we will not just have a huge population of engineers but a large a number of actual employable engineers. Willis Langford, HR Director, Avnet with more than 20 years of experience in the hiring industry answers these problems by sharing his views on the hiring trends in Avnet and the electronics industry today to Ankita KS from EFY Group. Here are his valuable insights…
Q: Is ‘quality talent’ a challenge that Electronics Design players are facing/going to face in India?
A: One of the growing concerns of employers at large is the fact that India produces engineers by the day. The question, however, remains – how many are employable? This scenario is no different in the Electronics industry where the incumbents often seem more inclined towards IT, Management and Commercial professions. With IoT positions blossoming, there would soon be a correction to this trend though.
Q: What is the key technology skill sets that you are seeking amongst the would-be hires?
A: One of the best places to be now is the electronics industry. We are riding an exciting wave at this point with IoT playing a huge part of this change. Technology component distributors are here to support and grow this new business if one covers the entire ecosystem from design to mass production, like what we do at Avnet. Our industry continues to be niche and dynamic, and this is what makes Avnet so unique because we look for candidates who are not just electronic engineers but candidates who have a flair of the ABC (Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Cloud) of technology as well.
Q: How do you mainly hire? Is it through campus recruitment or direct hiring? Can you brief about the hiring process at Avnet?
A: Avnet, with its brand, has a vast potential of self-marketing for filling in key positions. However, we believe that our best brand ambassadors are our employees since they understand our business, culture, and the organization from close quarters, and hence, we back ourselves on internal referrals.
Q: Do you mainly look for IITians or MTech MBA holders, or do you hire freshers from other Tier 2 and Tier 3 colleges?
A: Our focus is not on pedigree alone. We look for assertive, creative, and enthusiastic individuals who can demonstrate the same on the field. Our main objective is to meet the expectations of our customers and add value to the ecosystem that we support.
Q: Any unique hiring practice followed at Avnet–to get the right candidates?
A: Though Avnet is almost a 100-year-old company, we embrace new markets, new processes, and technology faster than many other organizations within the technology distribution fraternity. We believe this is true because of our people. We place values ahead of skills, and our hiring managers are well equipped to identify these demonstrated behaviors.
Q: The key trends you see with respect to IoT jobs, and what are the skillsets required?
A: With the IoT segment growing rapidly, specialized skills in Data Security, Connectivity, Business intelligence, Networking, Remote access development, and hardware optimization will be most sought after. Individuals with a reasonable design background and passion for transforming any conventional business to be more competitive will be the ones to succeed.
Q: IoT is considered an amalgamation of electronics, datacom and IT. Out of these three–which one is going to be the main Achilles heel for the IoT sector, in terms of the ready availability of good talent pool?
A: Electronics, datacom and IT will continue to be pursued. However, the abundance of IT in the market could well be the low hanging fruit for any organisation to leverage from. For long-lasting results, Electronics will continue to be the base.
Q: What would be your advice to professionals working in electronics or IT sector and eyeing a role in the IoT space? Should they prepare themselves for making a switch? How?
A: Professionals in the electronics or IT sector should most certainly strive to upskill themselves by adding the mentioned IoT skillsets. Due to the nature of IoT, these topics would become a segment within the ecosystem covered by IoT, so in order to move up the value chain, candidates should step up their game and keep up with technological advancements to make them more employable.
Q: What would be your advice to the academia–how should they reinvent their curriculum to create techies suitable for the industry?
A: More than 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25 and the prediction that the average age of an Indian by 2020 will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan. With this as the backdrop, we will witness a significant change in the demographics of India’s working population. Hence, it is imperative for a transformational change in the curriculum so that the right skills are imparted to satisfy the thirst for knowledge of this increasingly dynamic group who are at the forefront of technology. One way of transforming would be to focus on building on creative skills alongside basic life skills to be more relevant and employable in the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. A few universities have already made a head-start, others need to quickly follow.
Q: What steps can academic institutions take to bridge the industry-academia gap for the electronics design sector?
A: Curriculum shift is needed from conventional electronics to end-user-oriented design. In this increasingly connected world, the practicalities of ensuring knowledge imparted should be more on covering a wide range of technology and solutions, keeping the curriculum responsive and relevant in connecting complex industries.