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India – Signs of a troubled IT market

25 April 2013

Hiring slowdowns and the demand for diverse skills are taking a toll on the minds of Indian IT professionals, according to The Economic Times. Concerns have grown over the mental health of India's three-million strong IT workforce even as the industry slashes fresh hiring, demands better and more diverse skills from existing staff and puts poor performers on notice.

The IT industry, once a magnet for young talent, offers potential for fat salaries, stock options, and modern workspaces. But the sector is now flailing in the throes of a slowdown, according to the paper.

Bangalore-based Team Lease, a local staffing firm, receives 300 CVs a day from the IT and Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) industry, but complains about few openings. Hiring numbers have dropped by -30% in the last two quarters. “Till a year ago, the life of a resume was maximum 3 months and now it is at least 5 months,” said Sangeeta Lala, VP and co-founder of Team Lease.

This year, the industry is projected to 50,000 people less than last, according to Nasscom forecasts. Salary costs eat up a big chunk of the industry's $76 billion revenues and any cost-cutting inevitably hits employees first. The industry is enforcing a zero tolerance policy for laggards.

Since variable pay is a high percentage of salary and is calibrated to profits, small differences in performance ratings make a large impact on take-home salary. 1 to 1 help.net, a counselling centre for IT professionals, says that even a hint of a negative communication causes heightened fear and anxiety.

“This group has no human touch and is connected mostly through social media where everyone puts up their best photographs, said Nirmala Menon, founder of Interveave Consulting, who has counselled many technology workers struggling with depression. “They don't discuss work problems and everyone wants to pretend they have a slice of happy life.”

Not everybody is so concerned. Quality of work has improved,” said Nasscom President, Som Mittal. “Counsellors are making it (deterioration of mental health of IT workers) sound bigger than it actually is,” adds Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice president, Nasscom. “We have a 3-million-strong workforce.  We need to see what percentage is having such problems.”  Such slowdown pressures, Nasscom believes, should be seen as an opportunity to re-skill, not as a setback.

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