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telecom news: Telcos’ hiring to stay muted for around a year: Experts

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India’s top three telecoms Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio are likely to tamp down hiring over the next year while battling the pandemic and fighting to keep costs under check and the only space that will see some recruitment is the digital segment, with likely job offers rolled out in the cloud, security and automation segments, staffing firms and headhunters said.

“The hiring for the three telcos will be almost negligible for the next one year. Recruitment in the senior segment is happening in profiles like head for B2C, digital head, or someone responsible for bringing in automation across the company,” said Navnit Singh, managing director, India, for search firm Korn Ferry.

The growth in senior profiles for automation may not have happened now, had the pandemic not accelerated automation and digital adoption, Singh said.

But others are not as optimistic.

“There will be de-growth in the total number of people employed in the telecom services company. The hiring will be strictly need based,” said A. Ramachandran, senior partner at search firm EMA India.

Bharti Airtel’s employees for India business in the September end quarter was down by 529 to 15,518, while competitor Jio has 15,000-20,000 employees on its payrolls.

Rival Vodafone Idea had 11,705 permanent employees but that was before it bunched 22 circles into 10 clusters towards a leaner operating model in May this year. Since then, 1200-1500 permanent employees across marketing, sales and business operations functions were asked to leave, ET had reported earlier.

The slump in hiring is a continuation of A trend from last year, when telcos such as Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel were battling statutory dues and legal fights with the government and had even flagged threats to their viability.

“We have stepped up talent hiring across our digital and engineering teams as we scale up our platforms. We are also hiring for new business verticals such as cloud and security,” said an Airtel spokesperson.

Industry sources said like Airtel, Jio is hiring in the digital segment and some in fibre as well.

Vodafone Idea and Jio did not respond to ET’s queries on hiring.

The plug-in recruitments amongst the three operators are in stark contrast to the handset sector, which is set to hire around 50,000 direct employees by March 2021 under the impetus of the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, which encouraged global and local players to set up and expand factories in India.

The sporadic hiring in the service provider segment is taking place even in the junior levels but not in main roles.

“Two of the three telcos are hiring installers, wiremen and other backend infrastructure roles. Rest of the profiles are not open yet. Unlike the handset sector, which has seen a boost from the PLI scheme, (there is) no such impact on the operator segment,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder of TeamLease Services.

The ‘no hiring mandate’ in main business areas has impacted temporary staffing hugely in a sector where they were integral in retail, distribution of SIM cards and customer centric services, recruiters said.

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