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Why India Inc is seeking talent desperately


That’s the picture of the job landscape thrown up by a study by Mint-Shine.com, ‘Talent Insights’ (Shine.com is a subsidiary of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint). The April-June quarter registered a 61% increase in jobs on Shine’s jobs portal, compared to the preceding quarter—that is, the number of job postings went up by 1.6 times. Information technology (IT), BPO/call centres and recruitment services are the sectors that have generated most new jobs over the last three months.

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Hiring is back in business

The first quarter of FY21, when the second wave of covid was raging, had registered fewer postings. Since then, most of the sectors have shown an increased demand for workforce with companies opening up, and either returning to physical office or adopting a hybrid model. Sectors like hospitality, which had faced the heaviest brunt of the pandemic, are beginning to revive.

According to the study, sectors like IT (16%), hospitality (10%), energy (8%), engineering and construction (7%) and banking and financial services and insurance (BFSI, 9%) were among the top recruiters in FY22. Broking, shipping and automation saw the largest jump in the number of postings in FY22 compared to FY21—863%, 603% and 594%, respectively. In the data available for the first quarter of FY23 so far, the top sectors by number of job postings were: IT (21%), BFSI (16%, of which banking and financial services comprised 9%, and insurance 7%), BPO/call centres (10%), and recruitment services (9%).

What’s on HR wish list

The hiring frenzy is good news for employees. Human resources (HR) heads Mint spoke to said that companies are having to come up with measures and incentives to attract new employees while ensuring their balance sheets do not take a hit.

But which employees have an edge in the market? “Demand for digital professionals with relevant skill sets and experience in 2022 will be high. High churn in the IT services sector will ensure round-the-clock hiring this year,” said S. Venkatesh, group president-HR of RPG Enterprises, which employs about 30,000 people.

The Shine study highlights that sectors like aviation, manufacturing and telecom saw the number of job postings dwindle in FY22 versus FY21. But the travel sector, battered by the pandemic, is picking up as tourism and office travel resume. The increase in the number of airlines—with the return of Jet Airways, Air India going to the Tata family, and the forthcoming Akasa Air—will add a spurt in aviation hiring too.

The automotive sector appears to be on a revival mode after the last two years in which factories shut down, and vehicle production was hit by high input costs and shortage of semi-conductors. “We are actively scouting for quality and talent at various levels for different functions, including advance engineering, product development, purchasing and supplier quality, supply chain, operations and commercial functions,” said Ravindra Kumar, president and chief human resources officer, Tata Motors.

The auto major employs 52,000 people and is in search of people with skill sets suited for the ACES (autonomous, connected, electric and shared) transition in mobility that leads to a future of driver-less cars, ride-sharing and electric vehicles. “ACES sums up the four technology-driven megatrends that will determine the future of the automobile industry and, accordingly, we are looking for people who bring skills and knowledge in these areas,” Kumar told Mint.

Telecom, too, saw a decline of about 49% in the number of job postings in FY22 compared to the previous year but the upcoming 5G auctions, production-linked incentive schemes and setting up of telecom gear and phone-making units will add to the workforce count.

A spurt in hiring in consumer electronics is expected, and companies like Panasonic India are looking for candidates with prowess in artificial intelligence (AI). “Demand for new-age skills such as automation is on the rise. Here, AI and IT-enabled profiles are gaining prominence. IT security and infrastructure profiles, too, are becoming important as most of the organizations are looking at digital transformation as hybrid models for work emerge,” said Adarsh Mishra, chief human resources officer, Panasonic India.

With 13,000 plus employees, Panasonic India is optimistic about 2022 as the year of “normalcy”. “Hiring in the first quarter gained momentum as, after two years of Covid, all sectors are looking forward to 2022 with a hope to recover and close business targets,” Mishra added.

Shine also conducted a survey of 538 HR executives across different sectors. According to the study, digital marketing was the most sought-after skill with 37.2% of the employers on the lookout for that talent. Those who are well versed with IT, Python, cloud computing-like skills fell into the second-most wanted bracket (30.1%). The scramble to get into the digital mode, across sectors and sizes, is stoking the demand for certain tech skill sets. AI and machine learning (ML) skills got the third largest votes at 19.3%.

The 538 HR executives who took the survey were asked to choose the most sought-after job profile—primarily out of data scientist, cloud architect, and block chain engineer. 50.2% of those surveyed chose data scientist, while the other top profiles were cloud architect (20.3%) and blockchain engineer (9.9%).

The survey focused on getting the respondents’ priority order out of these three skills; other possible skills in demand were clubbed under “Others”, which got 13.4% votes.

“Keeping with the industry trend, we have witnessed a huge surge in demand over the past year. New and emerging technologies have gained prominence. Cybersecurity, SAP, cloud engineering, and data analytics have been the top skills in the recent past,” said SV Nathan, partner and chief talent officer, Deloitte India.

Back to office

April-June quarter was also the time when most corporates rolled out their hybrid or back-to-office policies. The HR executives quizzed in the study showed an increased preference for work from office—48.1% preferred heading to office. About 39.6% preferred the hybrid model of work where employees were asked to head to office only on scheduled days of the week.

To return to physical office or not has been much debated in the corporate sector. While those in certain roles like IT can have more options of logging in from homes, the retail, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries need their workforce in physical spaces.

Nevertheless, it’s an employee’s market. To get candidates agree to the employer’s terms is a challenge for India Inc. “The short-term challenge is to get talent that is ready to deliver immediately. Today, there is a shift from attracting talent to inducting talent as candidates are available to take up assignments but ready to work only on their terms. Getting people back to office is another challenge as most candidates now want to work from home,” said Mishra of Panasonic India.

In sectors facing 20% plus attrition levels, companies are rolling out double digit pay hikes to retain talent. A third of those studied said that their firms were rolling out 20% hikes; sectors like start-ups, IT, BFSI, where attrition is high, are expected to roll out higher increments.

But merely upping salaries is not enough to cope with threats of the ‘Great Resignation’. Many are relying upon benefits and welfare programmes such as flexible work options, better insurance, healthcare and mental health policies, and more stock options as retention measures.

“For example, our internal learning platform, Cura, functions much like popular OTT platforms, offering professionals anytime, anyplace, any subject learning, all personalized as per their preferences, that builds their domain expertise, as well as emotional intelligence,” Nathan of Deloitte told Mint.

Panasonic said that the long-term challenge is to keep talent engaged “as post-covid people are getting restless”. “At the workplace, there is a shift in focus from ‘what we do’ to ‘why we do, what we do’. People are seeking for a clear purpose for their efforts,” Mishra said.

CRISIL estimates 30% of new roles are digital-based. The firm has noted that the past 15 months has seen a surge in demand for tech skills, without a corresponding rise in supply.

“We have been deploying a multi-faceted approach—enhanced intake at the base of the pyramid, curating hire-and-train models, added emphasis on internal job mobility, employee referrals, second careers for women as a channel, and hybrid work model as an added flexibility,” said Anupam Kaura, president and chief human resources officer, CRISIL.

Some like Tata Motors are retaining their workforce by offering them opportunities to work on projects in areas beyond their current roles. The passenger and commercial vehicle maker has noted a shortage of ‘experienced’ talent in auto-electric and electronics area.

For many of these firms, the startup sector with its new-age benefit programmes, hefty stock options and flat hierarchy is seen as a threat. Ironically, the startup sector over the six months has retrenched about 11,000 employees. The many rounds of layoffs are mainly in the edtech, fintech and healthtech startups, which have been hit the most by the current liquidity squeeze and have over-hired during the last two years of the pandemic.

“In addition to it, we also have a supply challenge. The education curriculum from ITIs to MTech needs a revision to ready graduating students for the ACES world. Then there is a challenge of upskilling the existing workforce so they can continue to be relevant and contribute,” Kumar of Tata Motors added.

Beyond metros

The need for immediate talent also has pushed companies to hire from tier II and III cities. Idukki (Kerala) saw a six-fold jump in job postings in FY22 vs FY21. Some of the other non-metros which saw an uptick in job postings in FY22 compared to FY21 include Panaji (402.8%), Kanyakumari (371.4%), Ambala (350.9%) and Erode (354.3%).

In the survey, as many as 50% respondents picked Bengaluru as the “leading job market in India”, followed by Mumbai (19%), Delhi (17%), and Hyderabad (8%). However, 81% respondents acknowledged that hiring in non-metro cities had risen recently. More than half of them (51%) attributed this to the ability to work remotely. This was even more pronounced among startup respondents (63%). Large multinationals are scouting for talent in smaller cities as the pandemic has thrown up a chunk of the skilled workforce who are reluctant to live in expensive cities, or travel far to reach workplaces. In addition, these workers come cheaper than if they lived in the metros.

“The report covers not only hiring trends across geographies and sectors, but also softer aspects such as talent attrition and salary increments. We aspire to keep evolving this over time and bring more relevant insights to the broader HR fraternity and job-seekers alike,” said Akhil Gupta, chief executive officer of Shine.com.

To access the full report click here.



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