New challenges in IT job prospects

Seeing a writing on the wall, Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) Chairman C P Gurnani has sounded caution about hiring prospects in the IT and BPM (information technology and business process management) industry this fiscal. While maintaining the overall revenue growth of 10-11%, the $150 billion industry – employing 3.5 million people – would hire 15-20% less number of young men and women, as per the latest Nasscom assessment. In the financial year 2015-16, this industry had fresh hiring of 2.3 lakh people and going by the numbers projected by the industry body, the current fiscal would see a drop of 40,000-46,000 new headcounts. Now that is a big cut being attributed to a sector increasingly employing automation with the help of artificial intelligence, robots, high-end analytics and what not. In a way, adopting the new world of automation is the only way forward for maintaining India’s relevance in the competitive world of outsourcing which is moving much beyond the pure play of arbitrage in labour costs.

Surely, automation can have a major impact on the headcount but it would be over-simplistic to attribute it all to things like artificial intelligence and modern tools of software development and the BPM. Reduction in fresh hiring has got to do with the slowdown in the major economies of the world. For India, the IT and BPM industry has occupied a pivotal role in driving its consumer-driven growth. The skyscrapers in Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Gurgaon, housing most of the Fortune 500 companies, have provided a different dimension to the India growth story.

The top 5 players in the sector – TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL and Cognizant – together added a net 24% less number of recruits at 77,265 in 2015, according to a brokerage report. The industry which contributes 9.5% to the country’s GDP has to devise new ways to keep growing at a robust pace of the past. If the exports have been the main stay accounting for 67% of the business, the focus must also shift inward at the domestic market which can be expected to get a boost by ambitious programmes like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’. Besides, India’s fast expanding e-commerce is emerging as the main driver of the IT and BPM growth. As e-commerce is expected to consolidate and expand steadily, it can be a god-send for the digital economy that can now look for opportunities on the domestic turf to ensure that the job creation does not suffer a setback, automation or no automation.

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