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Going steady

Anumeha Chaturvedi. | Print Edition: July 24, 2011

There will be no acceleration in the rate at which the job market is expanding. At 74 per cent, the Employment Outlook Index for the forthcoming July to September quarter remains the same as had been predicted for the April to June quarter, show the results of the latest BT-TeamLease Employment Outlook Survey. The index is the difference between the percentage of companies polled that foresee an increase in hiring in the next three months, and those that expect a decrease. Around 76 per cent fell in the first category, two per cent in the second, while the remaining 22 per cent felt there would be no change at all.

In our previous survey, the index had risen by five percentage points - from 69 per cent in the January to March quarter to 74 per cent in the April to June quarter, reflecting the heady employment scenario then. Recovering rapidly from the downturn of 2008/09, sectors like information technology, or IT, and its enabled services, or ITeS, as well as fast moving consumer goods, or FMCG, were then hiring in large numbers. The big differentiator of the current survey is that it shows the market has stabilised.

"India is an events-driven market," says E. Balaji, Managing Director and CEO of human resource, or HR, services firm Ma Foi Randstad. "Policy-making events like the Budget can affect hiring decisions. This will be a stable quarter. I don't foresee major events occurring in it."

While the Employment Outlook Index is flat, the Business Outlook Index - also prepared by BT-Team-Lease - has fallen to 75 per cent, or one percentage point below the prediction for the April to June quarter. This index is the difference between the percentage of companies that expect business to improve in the next three months and those that fear it will decline. The marginal fall suggests that more companies now believe the current slowdown is unlikely to end in three months.

Methodology

The BT-TeamLease Employment Outlook Survey, which follows a rigorous, statistically validated process, was conducted among 635 respondents in eight sectors (see left) across eight cities. The companies were selected from the Kompass Directory for small, medium and large companies in the private sector, from NASSCOM for IT companies, from companies registered with www.bpoindia.org for ITeS companies, and the National Stock Exchange. Care was taken to ensure a good mix of large, medium and small companies as also an equitable representation across industries to remove any bias or variation that might be attributable to a particular industry. The target respondents at these companies were the HR heads or decision makers in the hiring process. Given the concentration of companies in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad, the study was restricted to companies with a presence in these cities. A random sample was drawn from each city with due weightage to size. Two indices, the Employment Outlook Index and the Business Outlook Index, were computed to elaborate and analyse the trends that emerged from the data.

Mfg. and Engg.:74
Retail and FMCG: 93
Financial Services: 74
IT: 80
ITeS: 76
Infrastructure: 75
Telecom: 84
Health Care and Pharma: 79


The Employment Index also shows that hiring sentiment in the IT and ITeS sectors, in particular, has dropped by four percentage points. "For months IT and ITeS were the top sectors in hiring," says Sangeeta Lala, Vice President, TeamLease Services. "Though the drop is not sharp enough to significantly lower the high positions already reached by these indices, the fall in these sectors has stabilised the index, which was earlier highly skewed in their favour."

By contrast, pharmaceutical and health care companies expect employment opportunities to increase by five percentage points. In the last survey, the index for these two sectors had fallen by eight percentage points. Balaji feels this reflects the rise in disposable incomes, and in consequence, people's willingness to spend more on health care. Recognising the trend, many hospital chains have been expanding and hiring aggressively.

Max Healthcare, the Delhibased chain of speciality hospitals, for example, hires 400 people across functions every month for its new super speciality tertiary care hospitals in Bhatinda, Dehradun, Mohali and New Delhi. "The numbers will increase significantly and can go up to 600 a month from the next quarter as we expand further," says Purva Misra, Director of HR at Max Healthcare.

The index has risen by two percentage points in both retail and FMCG, as well as in manufacturing and engineering. In financial services, however, it has fallen by three percentage points.

The survey shows hiring sentiment in the metros has risen by two percentage points on average, rising to 91 per cent, while expectations in tier-II cities have fallen by one percentage point. The outlook in tier-III towns and semi-rural areas remains unchanged. Job openings at junior levels are expected to increase the most - by three percentage points over the last quarter - mid-career levels are likely to stay steady, while senior level hiring may drop by one percentage point.

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