Last weekend, I was in Pune just after the suicide of a techie who was feeling depressed as he saw a very bleak job landscape for IT professionals. During my visit, I met several people in Pune and the common talk was about the IT jobs scarcity / layoffs.
The previous week, I was in Chennai where I met a senior manager heading marketing for a software services company. Her CTC was Rs 35 lakh. She had come for a job change and when I asked her why she wants to leave her present employer, a top 10 software services company, her response was shocking.
She said in the last six months, in her department alone, she was asked to send off 6 people – 25% of her total staff. She is having sleepless nights because she does not know when the Axe will fall on her. According to her, the company has identified, a supporting service like Marketing as expendable. She is a single mother and she does not know where to go if she loses her job. The point is she is still employed, but the Axe looming over her Head is something which is very difficult to describe.
As a Headhunter, I keep meeting people across industries looking for jobs. Most of them are in the middle management level and above. The people who meet me / call me on phone are in general those who are in dire need of jobs.
These days, I find that the number of calls / people who come and meet me has increased 5 fold. The reason either they have lost jobs or the sword is hanging.
Four weeks ago, I met an engineer from IIT in a 5 star hotel in Mumbai with the added qualification of a MBA from IIMA. He was 33 years old. To his credit, he was not asked to leave. He was an entrepreneur who ran out of funds. In the last eight months, he has been living on his wife’s savings. She is pregnant and now on leave.
I could see the desperation on his face. He was willing to take up a job anywhere in India. Regarding salary, I told him that he should not negotiate and try to get a CTC matching his peers. Reason he is unemployed. The advice I gave him was, first get a job, don’t worry about location or CTC. No potential employer will underpay you. Even if they pay you less in the beginning, knowing your strength, they will increase your salary so that they don’t lose you.
The other day a Fintech COO came to my office in Bangalore. He is 46 years, engineer, MBA from a reputed organisation. He has worked in some of the top FMCG companies in India – MNC and Indian. 2 years back, the start up bug caught him. He joined a Fintech company as a COO. Unfortunately, the company ran out of funds and he had to leave.
The anecdotal incidents I have described above is something which I am witnessing for the first time in my 30 years in Executive Search in India.For the first time, across sectors – IT / BPO / Telecom/ Retail / BFSI / Autos etc etc , companies are laying off people in large numbers.
In the IT industry alone, we expect about 100,000 to 200,000 jobs to disappear every year for the next 3 years. Beyond 3 years it is difficult to predict what will be the extent of job losses.
Recently, Tata Motors, gave a VRS for middle managers. CTS did the same some time back. Ashok Leblanc did this exercise 2 years back.
I am aware of a top steel company having identified 7000 people excess on their rolls.
Some of the top industrial Groups in India have decided to deploy / redeploy people within, rather than go for outside recruitment. Obviously, specialised positions are exempt.
As a person whose future depends upon Executive Recruitment, I keep close watch on the happenings globally.
Two years back, the World Bank, predicted that in India 60% of the jobs as we know will disappear. In China, according to the same study, it will be 70%. In the western countries, the jobs which will disappear will be around 50%.
We will be soon in the area of driver less cars, robots cooking at McDonalds/Dominos.
While we can say that India is different, let us not forget that the banking industry, before our eyes, we have seen ATM’s have replaced cash tellers in banks. Further, PAYTMs are fast replacing ATMs.
We are entering an era of jobless growth globally. Robots will increasingly play more and more important roles in our life.
Yesterday I was watching Elon Musk speaking about need to control Robots. According to him, if we don’t, the Robots will rule the earth. A scary prospect indeed.
So what do we do after 10 years when jobs will become increasingly difficult to get. Some experts are talking about UBI – Universal Basic Income. Already, some of the European countries are trying this out.
To conclude, I would say that things are not as bad as painted. There are silver linings among the dark clouds.
Knowledge workers will always be in demand. Today it may be big data, Hadoop, analytics, AI etc etc. I am told that an engineer who is well qualified and experienced in self driving cars can get a salary of US$ One million in Silicon Valley today.
A mind boggling figures, isn't it for a 30 year old.
Coming to India, I see that this is a great opportunity for us to overtake the western countries due to our superior intelligence and education.
Kris Lakshmikanth is a Founder Chairman & Managing Director of The Head Hunters India Pvt. Ltd. Views expressed are personal.