NEW DELHI: While others worry about the looming recession and job losses, the country’s telecom companies beg to differ. The sector will need up to
1,50,000 additional hands in 2009, according to the hiring consultants.
While new players are launching operations, existing ones are beginning to scale up. Now that the government has issued 120 new licences, telecom industry officials fear a talent crunch that could push salaries in core operations by up to 30% in the next few quarters.
“Conservative estimates put the demand from new players at one lakh people in the first phase. With rolling out of 3G and Wimax, existing players will need another 50,000 people,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, CEO of Bangalore-based Headhunters India.
Most of the new players would be looking for experienced hands, so getting people in such large numbers will be a great challenge, he added. Currently, the sector directly employs about 1,50,000 people, while providing jobs to another 1.5 million with retail outlets, prepaid card sellers and tower constructors.
And now with most telecom players expanding in the rural markets, the demand for manpower is expected to go up further. “The new players will have to attract talent by offering 15-20% higher salaries,” said Krish Shankar, HR (head), Airtel, the country’s largest telecom operator.
Some of the new players — such as Unitech, Swan, Loop Telecom and Shyam Telelink — have started hiring, and analysts feel this could drive poaching at top and middle management levels.
“Finding and retaining talent is a challenge today. Although we have an experienced workforce, at times they are short in supply. We generally look within the country itself, but are not closed to talent from anywhere, if need be,” said CN Nagakumar, chief human resource officer, Tata Teleservices.
The problem for the new players would be to get people in the core telecom space, which is primarily concerned with the technology of providing telecom services. While talent in sales and marketing can be found in abundance, sourcing professionals for setting up the infra-structure and networks would be difficult.