Tech Hiring is Booming in India

By Shefali Anand July 13, 2021

​As organizations around the world increase their technology adoption in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for technology and software professionals in India has risen dramatically. 

"More companies realize now the need to be digital and to get the talent diversity and scale in India," said Kamal Karanth, co-founder of Xpheno, a staffing firm in Bengaluru that specializes in tech-related hiring. Karanth expects more new tech jobs to be created this year than in any year before the pandemic.

In June, hiring demand by the IT-software and services sector was 55% higher than it was in January, and 51% higher than it was in June 2019, according to Naukri JobSpeak, an index of hiring activity across a range of industries in India.

The tech hiring boom is a stark contrast to what's playing out in the broader Indian economy, which is still reeling from the adverse impact of a recent ferocious wave of Covid-19 which infected millions of people and disrupted work. And even though many tech industry employees fell sick, most have returned to work and their employers are pushing ahead with growth plans. The higher demand for tech talent has pushed up salaries, as much as 50% in some cases, and companies are rushing to make counteroffers to retain staff.

"Of late we're seeing a lot more pressure in terms of the talent pool being available," said Chetan Rao, director of human resources at o9 Solutions India, a supply chain management-software maker headquartered in Dallas, Texas, which has offices in Bengaluru.

o9 Solutions has more than doubled its headcount in India over the past 12 months to 800 people, and it continues to hire to meet future demand as the company's revenues grow significantly, said Siddhartha Nyogi, director of India operations. "We're hiring a bit ahead because we are going to continue to grow revenues for some time," said Nyogi.

A big part of the demand for tech products and services is coming from such non-technology companies as fertilizer makers and pharmaceutical companies, which want to make their operations more digital.

"The pandemic has fast-tracked digitization by 5 to 10 years," said Sreerupa Sengupta, global head of HR for 3i Infotech, an IT and infrastructure service provider. With 4,000 employees around the world, 3i Infotech plans to hire 1,000 new tech employees within the next year.

"We've always been hiring, but the volume of hiring has gone up in the last few months," said Sengupta. Some of the hiring is for new roles, such as edge computing and real time data analytics, said Sengupta. In addition, a slew of American and European companies are rushing to expand existing technology development centers in India and to open new ones, adding to the talent demand. These centers typically create technology products to be used by the firms' head offices or their clients around the world.

"When these companies come to India, they only buy talent," said Karanth, adding that they are willing to pay as much as a 30% salary premium to attract targeted employees. "That heats up the market."

India's large IT services and outsourcing companies, such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, also are ramping up recruiting to help fulfill large client orders lately. In fact, India's five largest companies are likely to hire 96,000 employees this year, according to the National Association of Software and Services Companies, an industry body. The IT and business process management industry in India employs around 4.5 million employees, according to Nasscom, while the supply of software engineers, data scientists and others remains limited. 

"The gap between supply and demand is even more," said Vishal Gupta, Mumbai-based CEO of Seclore, a provider of technology solutions for data security. That translates into a candidate's market where talent holds the upper hand, said Gupta. "For the same role, there is a 30% to 50% salary increase over the last two years," he said.

Adding fuel to the mix is the demand from start-up firms that are flush with cash and willing to pay multiple times the industry's average salary, said Karanth. "They disrupt in a different way."

Online grocery shopping firm Grofers announced a 33% raise for every employee on its tech team starting this month. "We will only succeed as an organization if we invest heavily in tech," Albinder Dhindsa, the company's co-founder, wrote in a blog post.

Meanwhile, companies are using multiple strategies to meet their talent demand. o9 Solutions continues to hire new graduates from major Indian engineering and business schools, said Rao. Though it took a while to adapt to virtual hiring from college campuses, "now we're fairly comfortable in being able to source, attract and hire the right kind of talent," he said.

At 3i Infotech, Sengupta said they are thinking of hiring non-engineering graduates, since the amount of coding work needed is not as pressing. She is also talking to part-time workers, gig workers and resident entrepreneurs. Sengupta said the company has worked with such talent in the past, but they plan to do so at a larger scale now.

"I would like to augment my supply," said Sengupta.



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