Top IT firms to hire 90,000 this year

KOLKATA: For over two million software professionals in India  recovering from last year’s recession blues, when employers trimmed payrolls and froze hiring, there’s finally some good news ahead.According to software industry lobby Nasscom, India’s top IT firms, including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro , are set to hire nearly 90,000 this year, compared with only around 20,000 last year. For the first time since the global economic crisis forced IT companies to freeze hiring and shed jobs in December 2008, employment in the sector is now looking up.Recruitment firms and HR honchos at leading IT firms say the sector has witnessed the highest-ever job creation in September, with staff strength growing over 50%, similar to pre-recession levels.“This is the highest hiring growth recorded in the IT sector since recession. We expect similar momentum till November since companies will be required to complete their annual hiring plan before next year,” says E Balaji, director & president, Ma Foi Randstad. He estimates IT hiring to have grown 20-22% during August-September over the same period last year.Till 2008, even a 15% attrition rate was conservative in an industry where some firms struggled to keep it below 20-30%. However, with lar GE customers like JPMorgan, Citibank and GE sending more projects to India and with firms such as IBM and Accenture under pressure to hire more in low-cost locations like India, the war for retaining and hiring talent is back.

Apart from looking to serve new projects with fresh recruits, companies are also beginning to build bench strengths for future business. “IT biggies are stocking up skills and training them in advance in anticipation of new contracts they are expected to bag in the near future,” said Pradeep Udhas, executive director and head of IT advisory, KPMG.”Some of them are also expecting attrition, and hence a preventive measure. All major companies like TCS, Infosys, and Cognizant have exceeded their expected earnings levels,” he added. He expects the renewed hiring momentum to continue for another year.

MphasiS, which declared a manpower base of 38,275 in its last quarterly results when it added 1,156 employees, says there are currently more than 2,000 vacant positions within the company.”We never stopped hiring even during the downturn. What is encouraging is that some of the other companies that ceased recruitment have again started hiring,” says MphasiS chief human resource officer Elango R.

Headhunters say recruitment in tier-I companies are at pre-recession levels, but they say it will still take some time to pick up in the mid-level as the market landscape has changed. However, they say specialist companies like those in product development, analytics and testing are still growing and so has recruitment in tandem.”Recruitment may be back, but there is much more sanctity now,” says Ikya Human Capital Solutions MD Ajit Isaac. “Recruitment is much more planned now with a small bench. Companies are also much more disciplined and avoiding employees who frequently change jobs,” he says.

Interestingly, Mahindra Satyam, which is on a comeback trail, plans to recruit some 3,000 by February next year. The company, with some 27,000 employees on rolls, has been hiring fresh talent for the past few months now and has already added 3,000 people during May-July.”Recruitment in the IT sector had started to peak off from April-May. This is driven by entry-level and mid-level positions or those with up to eight years of experience. The demand for senior-level talent or those with 8-18 years of experience is very little. The sector is expected to continue similar hiring momentum for at least another six months,” says Mahindra Satyam chief people officer T Hari.

Another driver for more tech hiring is demand from large e-governance projects like Aadhar, or the unique identity project.”The IT industry has been recovering over the period and has seen significant improvement in hiring trends with not just international business picking up but also large reformist projects that are being rolled out in sectors like power, e-governance, telecom etc. Aadhar is expected to generate employment with specialists required across levels for implementing the complete solution,” said Vivek Puneikar, chief human resource officer at HCL Infosystems .

Meanwhile, job indices tracking the IT sector reflect renewed momentum too. “As per TimesJobs.com data, the recruitment scenario is expected to maintain steady and balanced growth, with skills and experience levels driving the demand,” R Sundar, CEO, Times Business Solutions, said.According to the Naukri job index, hiring in the IT sector has reached pre-recession levels during September and is at least 45% higher than the previous corresponding period. Similarly, the Monster index reveals that the IT sector has seen significant rise in online recruitment activity for the second consecutive month. The sector registered a robust 52% six-month growth.”This rising trend is expected to stay at least for the next six months to a year,” said Hitesh Oberoi, managing director at recruitment firm Info Edge – Timesofindia