While there is a sluggish pace of job growth across sectors, the momentum of hiring in the $167-billion Indian software services industry is showing signs of a steady pickup. In the recently concluded fiscal 2018-19, country’s top two IT-services companies Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Infosys hired over half a lakh techies.

For the year ended March 31, 2019, Mumbai-headquartered TCS had a net addition of 29,287 employees while Bengaluru-based Infosys added 24,016 software professionals. At the close of fiscal 2019, TCS’s total employee base stood at 4.24 lakh and Infosys at 2.28 lakh.

The Indian IT-industry, which is known for its bulk hiring every year, has been witnessing a slump in net addition of employees in the last few fiscals. The numbers were not that optimistic in the fiscal 2017-2018 when both TCS and Infosys saw a meagre net hiring of about 11,000 employees in total. TCS added 7,775 employees, while Infosys net addition was just 3,743 employees in FY18.

Unlike in the past, mass hiring of software developers by the top-tier Indian IT companies has come down drastically as companies are now focused more on recruiting quality software professionals and techies with a specialised skill set in new areas of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, data mining, analytics and others.

“It’s the more cutting edge that is getting to be in demand. The focus is on data sciences , AI , Internet of Things (IoT), analytics and user experience (UX) design for product, etc. Much of the IT business gained has a stronger high-tech flavour - and includes this as part of the high-end offering but talent is still hard to get . So these skills are going to be highly in demand across IT firms,” says Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, managing partner, Multiversal Advisory, a CXO search and advisory firm.

Human resource (HR) consultants point out that bulk of the hiring happening in the IT sector is at the entry level. “2019 is a great year to be graduating from college. Entry level hiring is up 12.5% in 2019, with top companies heavily investing in marketing, recruiting, benefits, and training to attract and retain entry-level talent,” says Alka Dhingra, a former IT recruitment expert, adding that Indian IT workforce will touch 30 million by 2020, becoming the highest sector employer. “This will be coupled with steady increase in pay in a sector already offering a high base,” she notes.
Staffing companies point out that IT firms are using multiple strategies in hiring which includes a mix of permanent staff and taking people on a contract basis, giving them more options.

While the job market in the IT sector has undergone a radical shift in the last few years experts feel there are certain roles in technology which will be in high demand. According to Dhingra data science, data analysis, solution architects, product managers, digital marketers, machine learning and cyber security will be the key areas and job roles IT firms will be looking at for hiring more this year.

According to a TeamLease Services report on ‘IT hiring projections for 2019,’ the Indian IT industry is expected to add around 2.5 lakh new jobs this year.

“Jobs roles in IT have become multi-dimensional and the industry needs to take a generation leap in 2019 when it comes to re-skilling. To facilitate advanced skilling, it is also crucial for organisations to hire high skilled and technologically sound HR representatives as well as development specialists who can hire the right talent. Investments in IT re-skilling will increase by around 20% in 2019,” the report noted.

Over the past five years, the Indian IT outsourcing industry has witnessed sluggish growth in traditional IT services businesses such as application development and maintenance, verification of software,business process outsourcing—which still account for about 60-70% of revenue for Indian IT majors. Meantime, revenue from digital businesses such as cloud computing, IoT, analytics, and mobile is growing at 20-30% year-on-year.

IT majors such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and others are prepping its staff to be future-ready. Companies have initiated multiple internal trainings in the digital technology space for its employees.

According to TCS its employees logged over 52 million learning hours in FY19, resulting in over 311,000 employees getting trained on digital technologies, and over 348,000 trained on agile methodologies.

The overall employment scenario in the country might not be that cheerful as data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) suggests that India lost 11 million jobs in 2018, while unemployment in the country is pegged at 6.1% in 2017-18 by the NSSO’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), the highest in 45 years. Experts feel India’s IT industry, one of the largest private-sector employers in the country, might be able to lift the spirits of the job market going by its current hiring momentum.

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