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On firm footing

The job market is stable as infrastructure, manufacturing gain ground.

Saumya Bhattacharya | Print Edition: January 24, 2010

As jobseeker's annus horribilis 2009 came to a close, Tapan Mitra, Chief of HR at Apollo Tyres, was busy interviewing candidates in his Gurgaon office for certain critical positions at the company plants. "This is mostly replacement hiring,” says a worried Mitra, candidly admitting that the spectre of attrition has come back to haunt him. "We are not overly worried yet, but with business looking up, our trained manpower is being tapped," he says. Apollo Tyres is also hiring to fuel its business plans. The company is recruiting around 900 entry-level graduate and diploma engineers for its new plant in Chennai.

At consumer durables company LG Electronics India, Y.V. Verma, the newly-anointed COO, has just finalised his recruitment plans for 2010. Verma is recruiting 1,000-plus people across levels and roles. Most jobs will be in GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) research and development and commercial air conditioning—the two focus areas for the company in India. "We are firming up plans for expansion at the moment. The business expansion will require substantial staff ramp-up in 2010," he says.

It's back to business for recruiters across India Inc. and for the next quarter, the growth is being driven by infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, says the BT-TeamLease Employment Outlook Survey for January-March 2010 quarter.

Infrastructure is on a roll with a neat spike of 21 index points to 69, while manufacturing and engineering is showing robust growth with an increase of 8 index points.

The employment index, which depicts the difference between the percentage of respondents reporting an increase in hiring and those expecting a decline, has risen just one point from the previous quarter to reach 47 index points. Reason: The immediate outlook for financial services sector has dipped, but more on that later. The bigger picture is India Inc.'s consistent intent to hire in the last three quarters. Employment outlook was at 46 index points in the last two quarters. Business outlook for January-March 2010 quarter has risen 10 index points, showing increased positive sentiment in business.

Says Rajesh A.R., Vice President, TeamLease Services: "There have been positive sentiments around hiring over the past two quarters now and we are likely to see the same going in to the New Year."

Hiring sentiment is positive for Manufacturing & Engineering, IT, ITES, Infrastructure, Retail, Media & FMCG, and Telecom, while Financial Services, Healthcare and Pharma have shown negative sentiment. Spread across eight cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad), the survey captured hiring intentions for the January-March 2010 quarter. The survey was administered to 505 companies across nine sectors during October and December 2009.

After a robust October-December 2009 quarter, financial services has plummeted to a low of 45 index points as against 64 index points last quarter. Was the euphoria in finance jobs short-lived? Perhaps not, if recruiters are to be believed. According to them, jobs in financial services are usually fewer in the last quarter of the financial year. Says Deepak Gupta, Country Head and Managing Director of Korn/Ferry International, India: "Financial services sector gets excited after bonuses." There is a strong possibility that the sector will pick up in the next quarter, starting April 2010.

That apart, placement firms like Ma Foi believe that banking- and stock market-related jobs are looking promising in the New Year. Says E. Balaji, CEO, Ma Foi Management Consultants: "PSU banks are on a hiring spree; They will, in fact, hire in thousands and these are no clerical, low-end jobs. PSU banks are looking for talent in areas like marketing and cross-selling."

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