Why Demand For Skilled Talent Persists Despite Global Headwinds?

Some of the Indian tech giants did a mass hiring in Q1 and Q2 which saw a growth in talent acquisition for upto 10 % or more


According to reports, 47% of employers within the Consumer Goods & Services industry report expectations to add to their staff during the first quarter, while 10% anticipate various decreases. 

Ranjini Chakraborty, Director HR of Giesecke & Devrient MS India in a candid conversation with BW People journalist enlisted her views on growing demand for skilled talent across organisations today.

1. There’s a lot of talk in the world economy about the slowing in hiring. How does that affect hiring in IT?

There are multiple factors that are leading to a global slowdown in hiring. Inflation in the US, geopolitical challenges due to the Ukraine war and a slowing European economy is serving as the backdrop for tightening of the hiring budgets too. According to Naukri JobSpeak report issued in Sept'22 - IT is witnessing a net hiring drop. The YOY de-growth in the sector was recorded at -6%. Apart from IT, Medical/Healthcare (-6%) also recorded de-growth in September’22.

However it's noteworthy to mention that some of the Indian tech giants did a mass hiring in Q1 and Q2 which saw a growth in talent acquisition for upto 10 % or more. It's only in Q3 that they have gone slow which also could be as the talent is now getting deployed and organizations are putting it to better and efficient effect.

Companies are undoubtedly going in the reset and re-evaluating mode however we must understand that hirings in IT are cyclical and usually towards the end of Q3 and Q4 there comes a lull. Having said that, we cannot be certain about this degrowth.

2. What do you reckon is the future of employment as there’s also a huge conversation about the boom in the IT sector?

I would like to begin by saying 'every business must think of itself as a tech business’. Companies across functions and business interests must think about redesigning their processes to factor in the increasing role of AI that’s augmenting businesses, and this is a trend that will take over in a big way.

In this respect the future of employment and boom in IT is indisputable, even as the world economy predicts a potential recession.

With the launch of 5G, integration of blockchain and ioT, newer opportunities have and will continue to open up. Additionally, the employees’ needs and priorities are changing and they are evaluating career choices based on aspects like flexibility, growth and employee value proposition. Therefore, IT companies must invest in ‘Active Sourcing’ to create a rich talent pipeline. It should not only be about recruitment but also training. With the upcoming 4th industrial revolution, companies need to recognize and invest in their skills and holistic development, not forgetting to create a safe, healthy work environment to retain the talent.

3. Globally, the requirement for skilled labour is increasing! Is downsizing/firing the only solution for others?

It is not only about 'hiring and firing'. We need to now invest in our talent pipeline and look at more sustainable, ethical, and business friendly ways to ensure that we are not losing talent to unceremonious mass layoffs.

Instead, we must have them well prepped and trained for the new and emerging roles and responsibilities or well coached to imbibe professional mobility with ease. And it is possible, by way of coaching and training. Coaching is being recognized as a key denominator for dealing with cultural changes brought on by the post-pandemic work culture. It is not only an essential factor in skill building but also important to imbibe professional moves. This means to foster an approach where an employee is enabled in climbing the corporate ladder to shift to another role – whether in the same organization or another. While training on the other hand is upskilling or reskilling the existing employees to catch up to the needs of the future or changes that an organization may have to fast abreast with given the changing economic, geo-political situations, upgrades or advancements. With such solutions at hand, we can undeniably work towards both the organization’s and individual's growth. In a world that seems to be caught between the crosshairs of ‘crises & waves,’ every day is

a new day, every experience is a new foundation to build practices on. And together with the readiness to learn, adapt and being nimble with the dynamicity it will help in staying afloat and relevant.

4. Is digital advancement going to play a role amid the Great Reshuffle?

Digital invasion or advancement at workplaces have and will continue to expand. Organisations more than ever now, need to empower employees with the flexibility to work when and where they want, with the tools they need to equally contribute. Hybrid work requires and continues to demand a completely new operating model, spanning people, places, and processes. And technology has been a pivotal contributor to this reengineered and changed world, which has further enabled flexibility, inclusion, and wellbeing for everyone. People are prioritizing health, family and their personal well-being over jobs. Many have changed the trajectory of their careers altogether, as they no longer want to be doing 'blue collar work', instead what is being called 'new collar work'. All this has been aided only with technological intervention. So rather than leaving the workforce altogether they have trained, re-skilled or upskilled themselves and have landed themselves in tech-related roles in logistics, finance, and healthcare leading to a 'Great Reshuffle' instead of 'Resignation'.

Another aspect of the workplace which has been greatly empowered by technology, has been 'culture'. While it is a key determinant of success in a hybrid world, building culture at a time when half of the people are working from anywhere and the other half are at the office , has not been a small challenge !

Organisations have quickly discovered new and unique ways to keep employees connected and engaged to sustain culture across the organisation. Playing a defining role in creating this unified hybrid experience, enabling secure and accessible collaboration for all, technologies like AR, VR and have enabled organisations to create a ‘real’ experience of being together for employees across different geographical locations. The use cases of immersive tech in hiring and onboarding experiences has immensely and positively impacted immense potential.

5. Despite strong optimism to hire, the industry faces a talent shortage where 84% of employers report difficulty finding the hard and soft skills needed as per the 2022 Global Talent Shortage, ManpowerGroup. Your comments on the same?

While India's hiring outlook for Q1, 2023 is moderately positive however there is globally a visible talent shortage of historical scale. 3 out of every 4 companies (75%) are reporting talent shortage and difficulty hiring according to the ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey. This is a clear indicative of the change in hiring narrative, which is being built exponentially around 'mass layoffs’.

I personally see this as a time of 'great opportunity and seizing the moment' for organizations and individuals alike.

The answer to the problem as identified by the report lies in the 4 B's i.e building, buying, borrowing and bridging and being a seasoned HR professional, I resonate with this completely.

This indeed is the perfect time for us to 'build' i.e., to invest in learning & development to grow the talent pipeline. 'Buy' i.e., literally go to the external market, and attract the talent that cannot be built in-house. 'Borrow' i.e., to cultivate communities of talent outside the organization and 'bridge' i.e., to create talent mobility either within or outside the organization.

6. Where does gender equity stand in meeting the rising pressure to retain the best talent as workforce disruption intensifies?

Equality at workplace is no longer limited to women. Instead , people from diverse racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, and hiring of LGBTQ is falling in the realm of diverse and inclusive workplaces. Gender equity has always lead to businesses achieve better outcomes, attract talent, do better innovations and even build products and services that are more befitting to the needs and demands of the market.

To get started with the basics, Women's participation in the tech industry across the globe has shown a slow progress. However, India has been on a better side of things as compared to the UK, Europe or even the US. According to self-reported data women represent around 24% of the technical workforce at Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook. And the overall number across the tech industry was around 29% in 2020. This is significant progress from just 8% in 1970 but very slow considering fifty years have passed. Large technology service providers in India like Wipro, Tech Mahindra, Infosys or TCS report around 30% of women in their workforce. They have shared plans to increase the proportion to 45% to 50% by actively hiring women. Tech profiles are in high demand and many more established tech companies are looking to hire more women in the future to help fill the resource gap and achieve better gender diversity. Creation of workspaces with a gender-neutral approach; fair, ethical and inclusive tech functions; flexibility; avoid stereotyping; bringing in recognition culture and a changed mindset will surely help in retention of talent and reach a gender-balance despite workforce disruptions.

7. What is the future of a skill-based economy?

The pandemic has taught us some tough lessons such as - no one has control over the future, not markets, individuals, or even the economy. Therefore, the time for employee reskill and upskill is now. While many industry giants recognized and jumped to the band -wagon much earlier, for e.g. Mastercard has been running its own retraining program since 2016 to gain a competitive advantage over start-ups. The future of skill-based economy is certainly bright however all this needs to be ramped up along with the changing priorities of the candidate's cosmos which includes hybrid work models, renewed work ethics, best practices, employee value propositions, mental health and wellbeing.

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