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Pay hikes may get fatter in 2018 after trimming of jobs in 2017

Monday, December 11, 2017
By Dhriti Ranjana Ray

India Inc is promising better pay hikes of 10-15% for the right talent in 2018 after a challenging year for the job market, stunned by post- demonetisation layoffs in traditional sectors like textiles and due to the advent of artificial intelligence in new-age ones.

The catch would be 'right' talent which HR experts broadly define as those who are able to re-skill themselves as per the changing work profile requirements, even as they warn that further 'rationalisation' -- the sugar-coated jargon for layoffs that came aplenty in 2017 including by some large groups -- cannot be ruled out for the corporate workforces.

But, the overall hiring sentiment of employers in India, as per major staffing consultancies, should continue on the revival path that has got underway in the last quarter of 2017 after three consecutive quarters of downtrend.

As per various estimates, just about 20% firms have made workforce additions in 2017, though a majority of 60% managed to retain their staff strength unchanged without any major layoffs.

But the layoffs were huge for some, including in IT, telecom, manufacturing, engineering and banking sectors and quite often demonetisation -- announced in November 2016 but had a long-lasting impact -- was seen as the culprit. Several corporates adopted a wait and watch approach and the negative hiring sentiments lasted until at least September this year.

Leading consultancy Manpower Group's India Economic Outlook showed a dip in the employers' hiring intentions in the first three quarters of 2017, before rising again in the October-December period. Its surveys showed the percentage of employers planning to hire dipping to 22% in January-March, further down to 19% in April-June and to 16% in July- September, but rebounded to 24% in October-December. Experts hope that the recruitment landscape recovery will continue and companies in mobile manufacturing, fintech and start-ups, among others, may hire the most in 2018.

Even the better good news is expected on pay hikes, which experts are pegging at 10-15% across most sectors -- up from 8-10% mostly in 2017.

"2018 is set to swing the pendulum further into the job growth zone. Businesses in almost all sectors -- notably, financial services, retail and ecommerce and media and entertainment -- are looking to hire talent at an even faster pace," said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder of employment services provider Teamlease Services.

The year 2017 saw growing adoption of new business models and newer technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation that significantly reduces the manpower requirements especially at the bottom of the pyramid. But this has also created a huge demand for specialists in these emerging technologies.

"Change in business environment is leading to obsoleteness of existing skills and have created demands for new skills as must-haves. IT skills are out now, while data science and digital skills are in demand," said Zairus Master, CEO of Shine.Com.

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