India job market may expand 20% next financial year

India’s job market is likely to see 15-20% growth in hiring next financial year (2018-19) on improving business outlook and industry confidence supported by GDP growth, according to estimates by recruitment firms.

At least half-a-dozen recruitment and staffing firms, including Kelly Services, Teamlease Services, PeopleStrong, IKYA Human Capital Solutions and Naukri, said they have been getting more hiring mandates than a year earlier from sectors such as consumer goods, consumer durables, ecommerce and startups, retail, pharmaceutical, BFSI, fintech, automobile, logistics and infrastructure. But demand from the IT sector is still quite tepid. In sectors where there is growth, it is across junior, middle and senior management levels.

Last year, there had been issues such as the after-effects of demonetisation, glitches related to GST and uncertainties over outsourcing in the US, which made industry take a slight pause to understand where it was heading, said BN Thammaiah, managing director, Kelly Services. “That ambiguity is not there anymore and the reading is far more clearer.” At the leadership level—this includes mandates for CEO and CXO positions—too, the market is showing a pickup. Last year’s hiccups in the job market are all gone now, said Navnit Singh, chairman and managing director of India for Korn/Ferry International, which specialises in leadership searches. “The overall positive business sentiment along with the bouncing back of sectors such as consumer goods, infrastructure, auto and financial services has led to a pickup in hiring mandates,” Singh added.

Since November 2016, the Indian job market has weathered the storm created first by demonetisation and then by the initial glitches related to the execution of GST. The employment market was hit also by the dramatic turn that the IT and telecom sectors witnessed. “All these seem to be a thing of the past and there is a greater predictability and positivity about what lies ahead,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, executive vice president, Teamlease Services. The pickup in campus hiring is a key indicator of the confidence that corporate India has on the improving business outlook, she added.

Noting the December quarter GDP growth rate of 7.2%, which made India the fastest growing large economy, Chakraborty said the economy’s performance also augured well for the future. Hiring experts said the market has started picking up since December and January with an increase in hiring intent of corporates. “Hiring managers want net addition of 12% manpower this year,” said Pankaj Bansal, chief executive at PeopleStrong. Thammaiah of Kelly Services said there was a 20% increase in hiring mandates. “This is reflected in the initial hiring in Jan-Feb and pipeline of order for the next quarter,” he said.

Most of the hiring is concentrated in the non-IT sectors with IT and IT services remaining cautious and selective. Much of the hiring in IT is focused on niche technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics, even as regular languages and coding jobs didn’t see much demand.

“There is a shift from hiring vanilla graduates to more skilled ones. The mix of hiring is changing. There will be high-value hires rather than low-volume hires. Volume to value will be a significant change,” said Lohit Bhatia, director, staffing solution, IKYA Human Capital Solutions, which is a Division of Quess Corp.

V Suresh, chief sales officer of Naukri at Info Edge, expects the IT sector to come back to the job market in the second quarter of the year.

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