The depressing sentiment across many sectors in India may be taking its toll on the hiring scenario, but, leading headhunters and recruitment firms expect that there can be an upswing in the near future if the government is able to push through some pending reforms.
The Naukri Job Speak Index for June, 2012, released on Tuesday shows that hiring activity in the country has been a mixed bag with sectors such as construction, insurance, oil and gas, and information technology-enabled services (ITeS) going slow on their hiring plans, but, others like automobiles and pharmaceuticals continuing to hire fresh talent. The IT sector, which is the largest employer of skilled workforce, has also slowed down a bit.
Hitesh Oberoi, managing director and CEO, Info Edge (India), whose flagship brand is Naukri.com, said, “It is not that hiring has come to a halt. Selective hiring is happening across most sectors now. However, the next few months will be extremely challenging for the overall recruitment market in India.”
The hiring market is not just sector specific, but it is also sentiment-driven, feels Ronesh Puri, managing director, Executive Access, another leading executive search firm. “There is no doubt that the recruitment environment in the country is very challenging at present because most of the companies are focused on cost cutting rather than on hiring or expanding. But, hiring depends on sentiment and the mood can change very fast. There are actually a lot of expectations and optimism after prime minister Manmohan Singh assumed charge of the finance ministry in the hopes that he would be able to push through some of the unfinished reforms agenda, particularly FDI in retail and insurance. If that happens, then the recruitment market will rebound immediately,” Puri said.
Vinay Grover, CEO, Symbiosis Management Consultants, echoed Puri’s sentiment. “Although, the current hiring scenario is pretty bad with industrial production on a downslide for consecutive quarters, there is a silver lining. The prime minister has given some positive signals after taking up the reins of the finance ministry. I expect the recruitment market to rebound in the next quarter if the government fulfils its promises on economic reforms,” he said.
Despite the general negative sentiments, a lot of hiring is taking place in education, healthcare, lifesciences, pharmaceuticals and diagnostic fields. Sectors like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are neutral, while the hiring scenario in sectors like telecom and sections of financial services is really down, Puri said.
Shruti Guleri, director of operations of Kelly Services India, agreed and said that the traditional slowdown-proof sectors such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals and education continue to do well. Most other sectors seem to have slowed down in terms of hiring. However, this downturn is different from the previous one that came as an unexpected jolt to industries. This was rather a gradual decrease in performance and companies seem to be prepared and cautious. They are staffing smartly, she added.
“At least so far, Indian companies have not resorted to layoffs. We have only heard from some European companies talking about layoffs till now. Indian companies, however, have pruned salary increases to the 9 per cent to 11 per cent range,” Guleri said.
The Naukri study said that most industries have started feeling the brunt of the slowdown with sectors like construction, ITeS, oil and gas and insurance witnessing a 17 per cent, 10 per cent, 8 per cent and 6 per cent dip in hiring levels in June, when compared with the year-ago period. Software services, banking and the pharmaceuticals sectors however have seen their hiring levels pick up by 9 per cent, 16 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively in June year-on-year. Auto and the heavy machinery sectors have seen hiring numbers similar to what it was last year.