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2018 Was a Bad Year for Jobs, 2019 Promises to be No Better With Employers on Poll Watch

By: Rounak Kumar Gunjan


Last Updated: December 28, 2018, 10:36 IST

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Job creation failed to keep pace with high GDP growth in 2018 and unemployment reached nearly 7 per cent towards the year end.

New Delhi: The pre-poll promise made by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government — of providing 10 million jobs — did not materialise for the fourth consecutive year in 2018. And there seems to be little hope for it in 2019, the year that will see Lok Sabha polls in May.

While the Congress did establish victory in three states in the recent assembly polls by riding on their agri-inclined narrative, a survey conducted by Association for Democratic Report (ADR) showed that jobs were the biggest concern for voters in 2018. ADR is a non-partisan, non-governmental organisation which works in the area of electoral and political reforms.

The year saw an increase in unemployment which, according to Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE), reached nearly 7 per cent towards the year end as job creation failed to keep pace with high GDP growth.

Lack of industrial sector growth was one of the major reasons for unemployment in semi and unskilled labourers. The informal sector continued to absorb the inflow of rural population to cities in search of employment.

The nature of the sector is such that it lacks any form of a social safety net and is burdened with inadequate housing, efficient and affordable transportation and job security.

What’s in store for 2019?

2018 was a transitional year that saw technology replacing a lot many traditional jobs. Hiring for several entry-level profiles took a big hit and average salary hikes remained static in a range of 8 to 10 percent.

In 2019, employers are expected to keep a cautious approach, at least in the first half of the year, due to evolving political uncertainties relating to national elections — despite employment generation being a key poll plank for almost all political parties.

Job creation has been a subject of big debate in the recent past, as despite a fast pace of overall economic growth, employment generation has not kept pace with an estimated 12 million people entering the labour market each year.

The experts rue that situation has been further confounded by a lack of sufficient, credible and periodic data on job creation. "It is ironic that while job creation will be a crucial plank on which the national elections will be fought, organisations may actually be taking a cautious approach to rolling out their business plans for 2019, thereby negatively impacting job creation at least for the first half business plans for 2019, and negatively impacting job creation at least for the first half of the year," said Nishith Upadhyaya, head of Advisory Services at SHRM (India).

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world's largest HR professional society, representing three lakh members in over 165 countries.

The industries that are directly correlated to government schemes for infrastructure, roads, highways and airports may proceed cautiously till at least May 2019, by when the new government is expected to be in place.

Other sectors, whose products and services are dependent on local consumption and exports, are expected to go ahead with expansion and recruitment plans.

According to HR service provider Randstad India chief Paul Dupuis, the IT industry turned the corner this year in terms of hiring after two years of tepid job creation, helped by improved availability of skilled talent in new-age technology areas and big ticket investments in the e-commerce sector.

As per Aon's latest survey, despite improvement in macroeconomic forecasts, the salary increments for 2018 stood at 9.5 per cent, while the projections for 2019 are at around 9.6 per cent.

"For people who are already employed, average salary hike can range anything between 10 to 12 per cent, wherein top performers may get 15 to 20 per cent and average performers can expect 5 to 8 per cent. But for many specific skills, people may end up getting a hike of 30 to 50 per cent," said Sunil Goel, MD of GlobalHunt, an executive search organisation.

Experts say that one of the most significant HR trends of 2018 was the way automation and artificial intelligence transformed the workplaces, while also posing a significant threat to job roles that are structured and repetitive.

"In 2018, technologies of the future were the name of the game with Indian job seekers increasingly looking for high-skill jobs that would prepare them for the changing nature of work," said Sashi Kumar, managing director, Indeed India.

Blockchain, robotics, artificial intelligence and cyber security related job searches witnessed a significant rise, as more and more companies embraced a tech-assimilated future, Kumar said.

In a recent Mercer survey, more than half of the surveyed companies across industries indicated their intention to hire more people till 2018-end and the 'hot jobs' were found to be in R&D, sales and engineering.

Mercer India's Shanthi Naresh said that the need for replacement talent will remain strong, given an attrition rate of 8.6-12.5 per cent across professional and management levels.

The top hiring trends for 2018 included an increasing use of digital and social tools, growing adoption of virtual reality and video-based profiling and interview, and intelligent screening and assessment. A huge surge was also witnessed in the use of social media platforms.

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    In 2018, the job seekers also seemed to have given higher preference to workplace culture, learning and growth opportunities, innovation and work-life balance over salary and other benefits.

    first published:December 25, 2018, 14:35 IST
    last updated:December 28, 2018, 10:36 IST