Business Today

Muted cheer

Manasi Mithel        Print Edition: Apr 29, 2012

After seven years in investment banking, V. Johri, a chartered accountant by training, shifted to a private bank early this year. As the Assistant Vice President of compliance monitoring and surveillance, he has to conduct regular reviews, issue reports and identify deficiencies in the functioning of the company - a bit like an internal auditor.

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He landed the job after going through five extensive interviews with the company's Indian and global heads. "I think what stood out about me was my experience, knowledge of risk and my enthusiasm," says Johri, who got a 30-45 per cent hike in salary.

Many more will follow Johri in the coming months. After taking its foot off the pedal for six months, the financial services sector appears to be in hiring mode again. As does the retail and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. The latest Business Today-TeamLease survey projects an increase in recruitment in both during the April-June 2012 quarter.

The survey, which provides a snapshot of business hiring sentiment, covers eight industry sectors and eight cities across India. "The year is just beginning. Many companies were cautious in the past, but now they are recruiting," says Sangeeta Lala, Co-founder & senior Vice-President, TeamLease.

The net Employment Outlook Index (EOI) - the difference between the percentage of respondents who expect hiring to increase in the coming three months and those who expect it to decrease - has risen from 70 to 73 during the April-June 2012 quarter. This increase has been driven by an improvement in the outlook for the financial services and FMCG/retail sectors over the previous quarter. While financial services rose two points to 61, FMCG and retail went up three points to 73. The two industries are the largest employers in the services sector. "Even an inch of growth (in the employment outlook index) for these two sectors means a lot in terms of job creation," says Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and senior VP, TeamLease.

However, the net employment outlook for the information technology (IT), ITenabled services (ITES), manufacturing and engineering, telecommunications, infrastructure, health and pharma sectors, is negative or has seen no change at all.

Across sectors, hiring plans, in general, look lukewarm for the middle management level. However, at the junior level - up to three years of experience - the trend is robust, with the survey recording a four-point increase. Take Max New York Life, for example. "We are looking to recruit at least 3,000 people in our frontline sales team," says Rajit Mehta, Executive Director & COO. The company feels that its talent pool at the middle and senior levels is stable, and plans to hire only if there is a need. "Overall, I think the BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) segment has picked up, and though we are nowhere near the 30 per cent growth of the past, the segment is growing at a healthy 12 per cent," he says.

The prospects of those at the senior level - people with more than seven years of work experience - also look better. The segment went up one point to 25 in the TeamLease survey.

"Despite talks of turbulence, we notice companies are keen to hire quality talent at senior levels," says Jyorden T. Misra, Founder-member and MD, Spearhead Intersearch. His firm looks at senior-level recruitments. Driven more by domestic consumption and protected against currency fluctuations, companies in the FMCG and retail sector, such as Dabur, have an upbeat hiring and business outlook. The FMCG sector has been recording year-on-year growth of around 13 per cent.

On its part, Dabur is still cautious: "Hiring is need and role-based," says V. Krishnan, VP of Human Resources at Dabur. For instance, the company is looking to expand its rural footprint into Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and eastern parts of Maharashtra, besides expanding its presence the South. And it will be taking on more people as the need arises. At the management level, the company has hired around 22 management trainees from the country's premier business schools.

The ITES sector, which fell four points to 76 points during the April-June quarter, has still not picked up. Neither has the IT sector, which recorded flat growth. But, according to Sangeeta Gupta, Senior VP at Nasscom, IT is still bullish in hiring compared to other sectors, with the global economic environment showing some signs of stability.

"Around 100,000 offers from approximately 200 campuses were made in our last campus-hiring exercise, in the September quarter. This is a large number and indicative of the fact that there is enough capacity to absorb talent," says Gupta. Campus hiring generally takes place between September and December. Among cities, the hiring outlook was positive in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Chennai led the pack, recording a threepoint increase - from 63 to 66 - in its net Employment Outlook Index.

However, Bangalore, considered India's Silicon Valley, saw a two-point fall. Kolkata was the other disappointment. "Chennai is one of the upcoming markets along with Pune. There is a potential to grow in Chennai. This is a bit different from Bangalore, which has grown beyond its limit," says Varadanahalli A. Rangarajan, head of recruitment at IBM. Bangalore's deceleration is a concern.

The city created around 120,000 jobs last year, says B.S. Murthy, CEO of executive search firm Leadership Capital. Most were a net addition to the IT and ITES sectors. "With the US presidential election around, clearly it would mean less hiring here in India. You will have the Republicans and the Democrats speaking up against outsourcing," he says. This will impact the employment outlook for the ITES sector. "Major hiring will happen only in 2013," says Murthy.

There is some good news, though. The Net Business Outlook has recorded a single-point increase in the TeamLease survey, a trend that continues from the previous quarter. The Business Outlook Index is computed by subtracting the percentage of respondents who say business in the next three months is likely to decrease from the percentage who say it will increase.

While the IT, ITES and telecom sectors recorded significant declines, these were more than made up by improvements in other sectors.

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