Srikanth Iyengar, CEO of Workforce Development at upGrad provides insights into the transformative journey of India’s GCCs: from their foundational role in the 1990s IT operations to today’s vibrant innovation hubs. With over 1,750 GCCs now employing millions, this shift in skill demand is pivotal in redefining India’s tech narrative
Global capability centres (GCCs) have been a significant part of India’s IT landscape for over three decades. The inception of GCCs in India dates back to the late 1990s and early 2000s when MNCs began to leverage India’s abundant skilled talent pool and cost advantage. Previously known as Captives or Global In-house Centres, these centres were initially established by multinational corporations (MNCs) primarily for IT services and back-office operations. However, the role of GCCs has evolved dramatically over the years to provide a wide range of upstream value-added services to stakeholders across the world. Today, India is home to over 1,750 GCCs, employing more than one million professionals.
This article explores the metamorphosis of skill demands, the economic momentum propelled by GCCs, their revolutionary impact on hiring, the impending challenges, and the encouraging trajectory ahead.
Changing skill landscape
In the early days of GCCs, the skill demand was largely focused on IT and engineering skills. This was because GCCs were set up to provide cost-effective IT services to clients in the West with a demand for skills such as software development, testing, and maintenance. Over the years, the skill demand has evolved significantly as GCCs transitioned from being mere service providers to becoming innovation hubs. Several factors have contributed to this change, including the changing needs of clients, the rise of new technologies, and the increasing competition in the global IT market. In recent years, the demand for specialist skills among GCCs has evolved significantly, especially for expertise in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, cloud, data, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Economic growth and GCC expansion
The market size of GCCs in India is expected to jump over 33% from $46 billion to $60 billion in the next two years and reach $110 billion by 2030. The number of GCCs is also expected to go up with around 320 new GCCs being added by the fiscal year ending 2025. This robust growth is a result of the strategic role that Indian GCCs are assuming in fostering product innovation, driving technological advancements, and spearheading digital transformation initiatives for their parent companies. The supportive policies of the Indian government and the robust start-up ecosystem have further facilitated this transformation. Many companies also operate in a hub and spoke model, with the India GCC being the hub for an Asia shared service strategy spanning Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and China.
This shift in skill demand has also led to a change in recruitment patterns. While IT services recruitment has seen a drop due to global business pressures, GCCs have picked up the slack, becoming the primary recruiters of digital talent in the country.
This evolution of skill demand and the growing importance of continuous learning and upskilling in the GCC landscape has created a significant opportunity for talent-skilling companies to bridge the skill gap with industry-relevant courses and certifications. By offering targeted programs in emerging technologies such as cloud, data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, as well as business and client-facing skills like business analysis, project management, and customer service, skilling companies will equip professionals with the skills required to thrive in the evolving GCC landscape. Many GCCs are now collaborating with these companies to provide upskilling programs for their employees and are also using them as a potential channel for talent acquisition.
At the same time, the increasing competition in the global IT market has also created challenges for skilling companies as quality upskilling needs high-quality education and training enabled by a world-class tech platform and supported by a network of industry experts and mentors. Skilling companies must play a crucial role through collaborations with universities and industry experts to design a curriculum that aligns with the requirements of GCCs.
With the increasing globalisation of businesses and the need for cost-effective IT and IT-enabled services, the demand for GCCs is expected to grow further in the coming years. As GCCs continue to grow and evolve with global companies replacing contractors and third-party service providers with GCC workforce, this trend will likely continue, presenting new opportunities and challenges for the IT and skilling sectors. GCCs are expected to provide opportunities for an additional 400K to 500K employees in the current financial year. The future looks promising with the continued growth likely to influence the skill demand in the country further. Skilling companies must seize this opportunity!
About the author: With over two decades of global experience, Srikanth Iyengar has spearheaded multinational businesses in tech services and talent upskilling, boosting growth and profitability for 2000+ clients across North America, Europe, and APAC.
Year of Incorporation: 2015
Number of Employees: 5100
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