MUMBAI: IT companies in India have stepped up hiring this year amid improvement in business outlook, but the talent mix is witnessing a churn as adoption of evolving and cutting-edge technologies spurs demand for professionals with niche skills.
Industry estimates suggest that recruitment has gone up 8-10% in 2018 over that in the previous year. However, employees with niche skills account for about 40% of the total staff recruited this year, double the proportion in 2017, as IT companies are reshaping organisations and reorienting business models, said Pankaj Bansal, chief executive officer at PeopleStrong, a leading human resources technology organisation.
“While net hiring might not have changed much, there has been a significant shift in the type of hiring organisations do,” he said.
CK Guruprasad, consultant at executive search firm Spencer Stuart, said the days of mass hiring and huge bench strengths were over. “There is a sharper focus on newer skills, as client companies across industries are going through their own digital journeys and IT companies are helping them navigate this transformation,” he said. IT companies are willing to pay a premium to people with niche skills, he said.
Although hiring continues to take place in traditional roles in areas such application maintenance and infrastructure services, there is a focus on automating these services or moving them to the cloud, which is also increasing demand for new skills such as cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and robotics.
AI could add $957 billion to the Indian economy by changing the nature of work to create better outcomes for businesses and society, said a report, ‘Rewire for Growth’, by Accenture. The report said that AI has the potential to increase India’s annual growth rate of gross value-added (GVA) by 1.3 percentage points, lifting the country’s income by 15% in 2035.
Vamsi Karavadi, senior consultant at Aon Hewitt, said although overall hiring and salary had not seen a sharp increase, there was a surge in demand for niche skills in areas such as cybersecurity, information security, risk and digital technology. “IT firms are a lot more focused now and conscious about the RoI (return on investment) of a hire,” he said.
There are 10,000-15,000 open jobs related to cybersecurity across tech and non-tech roles, according to data from Teamlease Services. Within the technology sector the demand is spread between ITeS (25%), software product (non-security) or shared services or captives (24%) and security companies (9%). The bulk of the demand is from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune, as per the data.
“Growth will continue in analytics space (data and big data), artificial intelligence that is percolating in just about every aspect of business, and machine learning that goes hand in hand with AI,” said Shakun Khanna, head of human capital management (HCM) applications – Asia Pacific at Oracle.
Khanna said there was a huge momentum in blockchain, with organisations looking at building bandwidth, and a shift in programming languages, with Java in hot demand and new languages such as Python becoming increasingly popular. “Overall Oracle continues to build capacity in new age technologies and expanding in all possible manners— investing in infrastructure and people,” he said.
Skill set-wise there is greater demand for “full-stack” programmers, who are comfortable with all layers of software development, and generic programmers are facing the push to update their skill set with niche skills. “That’s why employees are investing themselves in skilling up,” said Bansal. “New-skills people have significant advantage and salary difference over others.”
Leading IT companies are also expected to step up hiring from campuses this year. Zensar Technologies, for instance, is planning a 40% year-on-year increase in hiring from leading institutions such as Indian Institutes of Management and XLRI. This year, the company plans to visit campuses of leading Indian Institutes of Technology too.
“I have told my team to look for freshers who have done interesting things in technology and startups,” said Supratik Bhattacharya, chief talent officer at RPG group, of which Zensar Technologies is a part. “For lateral hiring at Zensar, the skills that we are looking for include predictive analytics, AI, machine learning and blockchain.”
This article was published on The Economic Times