If you’re looking to change jobs, now may be a good time because the Indian white-collar job market has well and truly shed its Covid blues to turn red hot.
In April 2022, job portal Naukri’s JobSpeak Index grew 38% year-on-year to 2,863, hovering around a lifetime high. A revival to the pre-pandemic level also seems well within reach. In the same month, competitor Monster.com recorded the highest level of engagement and job activity on its portal seen during the two pandemic years with its Employment Index hitting 295. It was 296 in March 2020.
The frenetic digital transformation pace of organisations after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing mad rush for IT talent in the country understandably drove most of this hiring demand. The IT/tech sector saw 74% hiring growth on Naukri.com during September 2021-February 2022 compared to the year-ago period. “Digital skills are the hottest in the market and the demand far outstrips supply. This is one area where there is a burgeoning gap, despite efforts to upskill and reskill,” says Infosys Executive Vice President & Head HR Richard Lobo.
Also Read: The Jobs and Skillsets in Demand Now
It would be an understatement to say that Indian startups and e-commerce businesses had a blockbuster 2021. The sector produced a record 45 unicorns, bringing in $40 billion in private capital. Sitting on mounds of cash and eyeing aggressive growth targets, they went on a hiring spree. The war for tech talent playing out simultaneously further fuelled the demand and salaries of those in the internet businesses, a majority of whom tend to be tech professionals. Naturally, the sector was poised for one of the biggest jumps in hiring intent in 2022. Digital recruitment firm Taggd projected a 55% jump in their hiring over 2021, according to its Decoding Jobs Sectoral Report 2022.
But the euphoria of 2021 has since made way for a reality check. The lacklustre IPO listing of some of the startups raised questions about their valuations. The prospect of an economic downturn in the US is drying up funding here in what is dubbed as a ‘funding winter’. And startups like Unacademy, Vedantu and Cars24 have laid off more than 5,000 employees over the past couple of months. One on hand, startups are letting people go. On the other, a lot of people are setting up new companies and startups, and expanding projects, says Randstad’s Shetty, calling it a “net-net hiring” situation. Quick grocery delivery startup Zepto, set up in 2021, plans to add 500-700 people this year to its 1,200-member team.
“The roles which are remaining to be closed where we are going to be putting in a lot more effort in the coming months are technology — product, engineering and data; city operations and some corporate functions such as finance and HR,” says its CHRO Roma Bindroo. Taggd’s Sharma insists a majority of them are doing well and are keen on hiring more in Q2. “Some of the newer ones which saw investments in the past year and not had robust operating plan seem to be for their own challenges falling through the cracks.” They have subdued hiring for support roles like sales and customer care, while they continue to retain and hire tech talent, he adds.
It is now common to hear how the pandemic played the Chief Technology Officer to companies across the board, accelerating their digitisation pace by several years. And the biggest beneficiary in India was the IT/ITeS industry, which boasts of a 45-lakh-strong workforce and accounts for $133.7 billion in exports. But caught off-guard, especially coming out of the first wave of the pandemic with a lean workforce, the tech companies began facing an unprecedented demand-supply crisis in talent. It also exposed a glaring skill gap in a large majority of the workforce, sparking off a war for skilled talent and steadily driving up attrition over the past year to a record high of 20%-plus at the end of March 2022.
The tech majors, in competition with almost every company hiring for their in-house tech needs, were forced to re-evaluate their hiring and retention methods. The top four IT majors in India – TCS, Wipro, Infosys and HCL – hired 2.2 lakh freshers in 2021-22 and plan to hire at least 1.6 lakh freshers in the current financial year. Understandably, the sector is expected to be one of the biggest hiring drivers even as some of the demand cools off as the freshers hired are deployed into projects.
Infosys Head HR Richard Lobo says Java and combinations, cloud skills and analytics are in high demand along with user experience and interface between current and future technologies. Cognizant’s Chief HR Operations Officer Felix Weitzman adds: We have the greatest available job opportunities in roles with Java, data management, .NET, functional testing, and web development skills. The firm has hired more than 40,000 employees in the past year, with the bulk of it in India and North America. The skills gaps are also in the similar areas of Java, .NET, CRM and ERP (such as SAP and Salesforce), which are highly sought-after across all geographies, he adds. “Cloud skills such as Azure and AWS have similar demand, and candidates with solid cloud experience are in premium demand.”
Infosys, Lobo says, sees a greater need for both technical experts and people knowledgeable in behavioural sciences and design with deep technology getting more integrated into everyday applications. “As artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and synthetic biology further develop, we can expect a convergence in these skills as people get together diverse teams to innovate on complex problems like climate change technologies, genetic engineering, autonomous transportation, and so on.” Towards this, the Bengaluru-based firm has started hiring people with diverse backgrounds in liberal arts, experience design and cognitive sciences among others.
Copyright©2022 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today