India’s tech talent market is growing, and despite the pandemic, the future looks resilient and bright. 

India boasts of the world’s youngest employable population. The country annually churns out over 3 million graduates, 300,000 post-graduates, and 500,000 engineering graduates. It adds over 200,000 IT graduates to the workforce every year. 

As per NASSCOM, the tech industry employee base is expected to reach ~4.5 million, with the digital talent base crossing ~1.2 million by the end of FY21. Tech skills are one of the highest in demand in today’s job market with increased global digitalization. 

Korn Ferry report showed that by 2030, India will be the only nation in the APAC region with a potential labour surplus of 240 million. Technology, media, telecom (TMT) will be one of the industries majorly contributing to this surplus. The rise of Level A (highly skilled) TMT employees will open more opportunities for India and the country might challenge the US’s position in the TMT sector over the next decade. 

Indian tech industry is growing despite the pandemic 

According to NASSCOM, while global output is expected to have shrunk by ~3.2% in 2020, Indian tech industry grew by 2.3% year-on-year during the same period. This growth is being attributed to factors such as the increasing adoption of technology and the acceleration of digital transformation. 

Indian tech contributed ~8% of the nation’s GDP. It accounted for over 50% share of the total services exports and of the total FDI (based on FDI inflows for the period of April to September 2020). The Indian tech industry remains a net hirer despite the pandemic and it is expected to hire 138,000 net new hires in FY2020-21. 

The investment in digital is going strong and ~30% of the industry revenue was contributed by digital in 2020. Domestic digitalization received a major boost last year. India’s focus on innovation was signified once again with over 115,000 tech patents filed in the last five years. 

Hiring activities are steadily recovering 

As per a LinkedIn report, hiring in India increased by 35% between April and June 2020, after the initial decline in recruitment because of the pandemic. The hiring activities declined by 50% year-on-year in April before the recovery process began. Hiring witnessed a 15% year-on-year decline by the end of June 2020. 

According to the Monster Employment Index, a job analysis index shared by the hiring site, the overall hiring activity is now speeding with online hiring demand or jobs in March 2021 exceeding that of March 2020 in nearly all sectors.  

Many Indians upskilled themselves during the pandemic 

Reskilling and upskilling are two important ways to remain relevant across industries during the pandemic induced “new normal”. 

Companies are looking for employees who can multi-task and possess specialized digital skills as most believe that post pandemic recovery will be hugely reliant on technological advancements. 

According to the LinkedIn year-end data, in 2020, India witnessed a growth in online learning and digital skills as Indian professionals upskilled themselves. The average number of learning hours on the LinkedIn Learning platform increased three times from April to December 2020, compared to the pre-Covid months, January and February. 

According to a 2020 report by Udemy, a massive online course provider, online learning enrollments have increased all over the world post the lockdown with a massive surge in countries like Spain (280% increase), India (200% increase), and Italy (320% increase). The most popular courses in India were Communication Skills (606%) and Business Fundamentals (281%). 

These are just two of the many online learning platforms, but this trend shows that Indians have spent significant time during the lockdown in building skill-sets that make them further employable in the marketplace. 

Trends that will dominate the future of tech hiring 

The job market has become much more diversified and geo agnostic with remote working becoming a norm rather than an exception. 

Many companies are shifting towards a hybrid model to balance working from office and working from home. The adoption of collaborative digital tools has made a seamless working environment possible and this trend will likely dominate the work culture in the coming years. 

This means more opportunities for qualified candidates even if they don’t have the flexibility to change locations for their jobs or stay out for long because of family requirements. 

As per Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) estimates, between mid-2016 and early 2020, the female labour participation rate, which is the percentage of women working out of all women falling in the working age, fell from 16.4% to about 11%. This figure might have been further pushed to 9% due to the pandemic. 

The virtual workplaces will also welcome more diversity and inclusion with the gender ratio being pushed towards a 50:50 female to male ratio. Companies are increasingly promoting inclusion while addressing the conscious and unconscious biases within their eco-systems. This results in better employee retention and greater innovation according to the majority of executives in a recent Korn Ferry survey

Virtual hiring and onboarding has been a rising trend with the pandemic induced lockdown extending for months in a row. This is expected to continue in the future with relocations, work permits, visas etc. not being a big factor in hiring suitable candidates anymore. 

Organizations are expected to deviate from legacy models and prioritize professional performance over degrees from high-profile colleges/universities. 

The upsurge of the gig economy 

A gig economy is a labour market that is governed by short term or on-demand contractual or freelance jobs. The pandemic has given a major boost to India’s gig economy.  

Employers aren’t hesitant in hiring remote workers with specialist skills such as consultants, writers, researchers, creative designers, digital marketers, and so on.  

Currently, there are around 180 platform companies providing gig work, with an estimated joint net worth of around $4.5 trillion. By 2025, the estimated value of the gig economy might reach ~$355 billion, offering over 350 million jobs. 

India is the second largest gig service providers with a roughly estimated 15 million people involved in gig work. According to a survey conducted by AON and NASSCOM in 2020, nearly 60% of India’s tech sector companies hires the gig workforce and almost all of them plan on continuing with this trend. This can hugely influence and shape India’s future hiring trends.