The world of work is poised for major transformations in 2024 driven by economic conditions, emerging technologies, and evolving workplace priorities. To gain insights into these shifts, we spoke with Manu Saigal, Director-General Staffing at workforce solutions firm Adecco India. Manu sheds light on the key trends and strategies that will define the 2024 Indian job market across critical sectors like information technology.
From surging demand for niche digital skills to the expanding gig economy and focus on employee wellbeing, Saigal details the forces that will shape hiring, campus recruitment, and the IT sector in 2024. She also explores how AI, automation, and data analytics are revolutionising talent acquisition.
Here are the edited excerpts:
What are your projections for the job market in 2024?
The Indian job market is expected to continue its positive trajectory in 2024, with projections indicating sustained growth in hiring and salary increments. The technology, media, gaming, financial services, and retail sectors are anticipated to lead the way in 2024, driven by rapid industry growth and the ensuing demand for skilled professionals.
Trends shaping the Indian job market in 2024 include:
- Rising demand for digital skills, fueled by businesses embracing digital technologies, is creating opportunities for AI, machine learning, data science, and cybersecurity professionals.
- The gig economy's expansion offers opportunities for individuals with diverse skills and experience to opt for freelance or contract work.
- Increasing focus on employee well-being, recognising the importance of a healthy and engaged workforce, and generating opportunities for professionals in mental health, wellness, and employee relations.
How do you foresee the year 2024 shaping IT hiring strategies?
The year 2024 is expected to be a period of significant change for IT hiring strategies. The overall market is expected to grow by 8% over the next 3–4 years, but this growth will be unevenly distributed across different segments of the IT industry. In the first half of the year, IT hiring is expected to be relatively static, with an expected slight rally in May or June. This is due to a number of factors, including the ongoing macroeconomic headwinds in the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
In the second half of the year, however, IT hiring is expected to pick up, driven by demand for generative AI, niche to ultra-niche skills, and QA engineers with mixed technology. However, it is important to note that the skillset required for these roles is not readily available, so there may be some challenges in finding suitable candidates.
IT hiring strategies expected to be prevalent in 2024:
- Backfilling: Companies will continue to hire IT professionals to fill open positions that have been created through attrition or expansion.
- Support and maintenance: There will also be a continued demand for IT professionals to provide support and maintenance for existing IT systems.
- Layoffs: Due to the macroeconomic headwinds, some companies may be forced to lay off IT workers.
- Bench and glexi workers: Companies are very cautious with the strength of IT workers on the bench. However, there is a marked increase in hiring flexible workers to better manage their demand-supply ratio.
Can you shed light on the emerging trends in IT staffing and flexible job roles?
The Indian IT industry is adapting to evolving market demands by embracing flexible job roles and staffing models. Companies are increasingly hiring freelance or contract IT professionals for specialized projects, and remote work is gaining prominence, allowing companies to access a broader talent pool. The demand for specialised IT skills is surging, particularly in areas like ERP, with SAP BO, Salesforce, and Workday gaining traction.
On the other hand, demand for core IT skills, such as Java and.NET, has experienced a decline. This shift is evident in the composition of IT talent, with the 80:20 perm/flexi model evolving towards a more balanced 50:50 ratio. Meanwhile, the demand for infrastructure and network engineers remains strong, driven by the increasing complexity of IT infrastructure. The ITeS sector, encompassing IT-enabled services, continues to play a significant role in the Indian IT industry, providing valuable support and services to businesses worldwide.
How are economic factors expected to influence campus placements in the near future?
The Indian IT industry is facing a challenging economic environment that is expected to impact campus placements in the coming months. While the overall demand for IT professionals is expected to remain steady, the pace of campus hiring is likely to slow down due to several factors, including global economic uncertainties, inflationary pressures, and rising interest rates. These economic headwinds are putting pressure on IT companies to control costs, and one of the ways they are doing this is by reducing their reliance on on-campus recruitment. This trend is likely to continue in the coming years as companies increasingly turn to experienced professionals and alternative hiring channels, such as freelance and contract work.
As the demand for specialised IT skills continues to grow, companies are focusing on upskilling and reskilling their existing workforce rather than seeking fresh talent through campus placements. Additionally, the increasing adoption of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to displace some routine IT jobs, further reducing the need for entry-level IT professionals recruited through campus programs.
While the outlook for campus placements in the Indian IT industry is not entirely bleak, companies need to be prepared for a decline in hiring numbers. They should focus on developing strong relationships with universities and colleges to secure a pipeline of qualified candidates and invest in training and development programs to ensure that their existing workforce has the skills required for the future of work.
In what ways do you see AI, automation, and data-driven insights revolutionising talent acquisition and elevating candidate experiences?
Artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and data-driven insights are transforming talent acquisition and enhancing candidate experiences in the Indian IT industry. These technologies are being employed to streamline recruitment processes, improve candidate matching, personalize candidate experiences, promote diversity and inclusion, and enhance candidate retention. For instance, a virtual recruiter powered by AI can answer candidate queries and provide personalized feedback, while other organisations are utilizing data-driven insights to identify early signs of potential employee turnover and implement preventive measures. Few others employ AI chatbots to schedule interviews and send follow-up emails to candidates.
The continuous advancement of AI, automation, and data-driven insights is expected to bring forth even more innovative and effective applications in the years to come, further revolutionising talent acquisition and elevating candidate experiences in the Indian IT industry.