Telecom sector set to turn net hirer in FY20

While some senior-level hiring took place at salary levels upward of Rs 1 cr, hiring has started for other grades too.

Telecom hiring freeze over, sector set to increase 5% manpower by FY20-end
MUMBAI: The telecom sector, which has lost over 100,000 employees in the last two years amid financial turmoil and consolidation, is set to turn a net hirer in FY20, with an expected 5% increase in manpower, executives said.

They are looking to recruit from companies such as Microsoft, Google, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), HCL Technologies, Ericsson and Nokia to help with network digitisation and preparing for 5G.

From about 300,000 people employed directly and indirectly in FY17, the workforce at operators and tower firms has dropped to 180,000, said a top industry executive. “There was barely any hiring in the last two years because of consolidation and now we expect a 5% increase by the end of this financial year (through March 2020).”


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Intense competition forced some operators to exit, become defunct or merge, resulting in the number shrinking to three companies — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio Infocomm. Even the towers industry has seen consolidation.

But with tariffs stabilising over the past year or so and average revenue per user (ARPU) starting to rise for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, industry revenue is expected to rise in FY20, signalling that the worst may be over.

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While some senior-level hiring took place at salary levels upward of Rs 1 crore in the past few years, recruitment has started for other grades as well, said experts.

“The current demand is primarily for highly specialised skills in the junior to mid-level hierarchy in the twofive years (experience) bracket,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, cofounder of staffing firm TeamLease Services.

She added the advent of 5G was one of the main reasons why the industry, including handset makers, original equipment makers (OEMs) etc., will hire people. “5G will not only improve network performance and productivity but eventually will create more highskilled job opportunities,” she said. “The job-creation estimate for first half of the current fiscal is 33,100.”

Even field positions, which at times have an attrition rate of 30%, are opening up, said Kamal Karanth, cofounder of Xpheno, a specialist staffing company that works with telcos. Junior posts for engineering graduates are also opening up “but the main demand is for IT, digital marketing, innovation and R&D,” he said. The telcos are looking for candidates from companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, TCS, HCL, Microsoft and Google, he added.

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“We are expanding our consumer businesses and Jio continues to be a net recruiter in the industry,” a Jio spokesperson said. Vodafone Idea’s CEO Balesh Sharma told ET recently that the company’s hiring freeze was over. Airtel did not respond to queries.
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