By Gagandeep Kaur

The last few years have been rich in upheavals for the Indian telecommunications industry, impacting on hiring and the demand for skills.

The massive consolidation has led to a decline in the number of service providers from an average of 12 telecom operators in each circle to three private telecom operators and one state-owned service provider. While some service providers, like Reliance Communications, have been forced to shut down, others like Tata Teleservices and Videocon have merged with larger players. This has led to a massive influx into the telecommunications job market.

As the market stabilized, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic hit mankind, and the telecommunications industry provided connectivity helped us complete business and personal tasks even as lockdown and distancing social upheaval. The pandemic has also played a role in widening the already existing skills gap.

“The telecommunications industry has seen rapid disruption in recent years, and the pandemic has further amplified it. While in 2020, carriers seized the opportunity by ensuring people stay connected in schools, families, offices and hospitals, COVID had created a skills gap. The need of the hour is for more systems-oriented thinking processes. Communication service providers ( CSP) now need a data-driven transformation, ”said Deval Singh, vice president of Teamlease Services Limited, a leading recruiting firm.

Last year, clashes between Indian and Chinese forces in Ladakh led to a change in policy regarding Chinese sellers. This has led Chinese suppliers to downsize in India. Chinese gearmaker Huawei has been reported to cut its workforce by 60 to 70 percent last year.

“The current scale and pace of change in the telecommunications industry is driven by the rapid evolution of new technologies such as AI, Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, advanced data analytics and advanced computing. This has resulted in a change in the skill requirements. in the sector, and companies are looking for candidates with new skills. The industry is also investing heavily in upgrading and retraining initiatives to close the gap between demand and supply, ”Singh said.

Factors likely to have impacted hiring include massive industry debt, which may have delayed expansion plans and network upgrade initiatives.

Moreover, by all indications, Vodafone Idea, the third largest service provider in India, is going through a difficult period. If the company is forced to downsize or shut down altogether, it will put additional stress on hiring telecoms. It is also possible that it will be merged with the public company BSNL, which will again lead to a duplication of several positions and a subsequent reduction in the number of employees. Vodafone Idea has approximately 9,500 employees in India, while BSNL has over 60,000 employees.

Over the years, the telecommunications industry has created millions of jobs in India. The sector contributes around 6.5% of the country’s GDP and has provided employment for more than four million jobs.

Booming telecom recruitment

The good news is that the job market is expected to grow over the next few months, if not years. The latest Monster Employment Index for June 2021 shows that the telecommunications and Internet service provider (ISP) industry grew 39% from last year. In addition, the telecommunications industry posted the highest number of hires in all industries. Increased digitization is one of the reasons for this surge.

The deployment of 5G in the coming year is expected to lead to the growth of the job market. Globally, the 5G value chain is expected to create 22.8 million new jobs from 2020 to 2035, according to projections by HIS Markit.

“In the first 7 months of 2021, the telecommunications industry followed a similar trajectory to overall hiring trends except on May 21 when it was up 12% while overall hiring was stable (-1%) and July 21 where overall hiring is up 11% and the industry is down 12%, ”says Dr Pawan Goyal, Commercial Director of Naukri.com.

“The demand for talent in the telecommunications sector in India is expected to increase by 20% in 2021 due to the widespread adoption of internet services, the demand for better telecommunications networks and the deployment of fifth generation or 5G technology. Some of the profiles that will be sought in the automation, 5G and cloud space, ”says Ruchika Batra, vice president – Marketing and Communications, Ericsson.

Ericsson, along with other global suppliers, is one of the largest employers in the telecommunications segment in India. The company has more than 19,000 engineering and research and development employees in the country.

“India has always been a major contributor to hiring in the overall market, and these numbers will rise again due to the demand for 5G. I would expect the workforce to increase. ‘around 10% in India for the year 2021 “, Batra specifies. . She mentioned that Ericsson has focused on 5G, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) in India.

Several new initiatives such as the Production Incentive Program (PLI), along with the government’s focus on domestic manufacturing, are expected to boost hiring in telecommunications and technology. In addition, there is renewed activity in the domestic supplier space, which could help improve hiring in the telecommunications industry.

What skills are needed?

However, even as the job market improves, there is a considerable skills shortage as the demand is for new technologies, such as 5G, automation and the cloud. Therefore, telecommunications companies strive to improve the skills of their workforce.

Skills in new technologies like 5G, AI, IoT and cloud are most in demand in India. This requirement is likely to increase as digital transformation intensifies in the country. “One of the most in-demand skill sets is that of Network Security Engineers. In addition, roles like IoT Solutions Architect will also be in demand, especially with the launch of 5G and related services. Other skills in demand in this industry are cloud analytics, data compliance, cybersecurity and machine learning, ”Singh explains.

“In 2021, overall employment opportunities in telecommunications are expected to increase by 20% in India. The demand for contract staff is also on the rise. The profiles sought are salespeople, store executives, installation engineers, network engineers and Hiring of temporary staff in telecommunications has almost doubled since 2019, “says Singh of Teamlease. The government has formed the Telecom Sector Skill Council a few years ago to help the industry retrain.

The main roles within the telecommunications sector which saw a slight increase in 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic period in 2019 are:

The roles Growth in 2021 vs 2019
IT / network manager and technical architect 197%
DBA and database architect / designer 45%
Customer Support Engineer / Technician 42%
Business analyst and data analyst 31%
Technical Support Manager 24%

–Data shared by Naukri.com

As the industry prepares to bring new technology and workforce to market, like 5G, IoT, and AI, hiring will rebound and improve. However, the sector will still need to retrain and develop its current workforce, so that it is able to meet future needs head-on.

(Gagandeep Kaur is a freelance telecom journalist based in New Delhi)


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