Hiring activity touches pre-covid levels

The expansion of digitisation in purchases and transactions, along with an estimated higher consumer spending during the festive season has increased hiring in various sectors.

September 3, 2021

An Indeed report predicts that the consumption economy will drive further job growth in India during 2021.

The easing of lockdown restrictions and reopening of business establishments have contributed to the creation of more jobs.

The robust sowing season in July led to the creation of several temporary jobs in the agriculture sector.

With E-Commerce companies gaining more traction among consumers during the pandemic, further hiring is anticipated in the sector.

The gradual reopening of the economy with the decline of the second wave of the pandemic has led to an increase in the hiring activity, causing the latter to touch pre-COVID levels. According to an Indeed report, as mentioned in Business Today, the consumption economy will drive further job growth with hiring activity reaching the level of what it was before February 2020. While hiring in food and retail sectors rose by 52 percent and 39 percent respectively, job demand in HR and finance roles went up by 27 percent each between July 2020-July 2021. Owing to the growth in digitisation, an increase by 19 per cent was seen in job postings for IT tech software roles during the same period, and other IT roles like that of an engineer and project head rose by 8-16 percent. Given the prioritising of hygiene and sanitation, post the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions and consequent reopening of the business establishments, the demand for sanitation workers, housekeepers and caretakers has also grown by 60 percent. The report further mentioned an increased level of interest reflected in veterinary, therapy, personal care and childcare jobs, which would suggest a change in the propensity of job seekers as well.

Agriculture and construction sectors see a major boost in temporary jobs
Agriculture and construction were the two main sectors which saw the addition of 16 million jobs in July 2021, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), as mentioned in an article in the Economic Times, despite the fall in the number of salaried jobs by 3.2 million from June 2021. CMIE’s CEO Mahesh Vyas mentioned that an additional 18.6 million people were employed as small traders and daily wage workers, among which 11.2 million were engaged in agriculture as a reflection of the massive boom in sowing activity during July when 65.3 hectares were sown as compared to the 19.5 million hectares in June 2021. This, in turn, could have contributed to the increase in employment in the agriculture sector, in a seasonal pattern observed every year. The construction sector, on the other hand, is said to have absorbed 5.4 million more people. However, he also expressed his disappointment in the fall in number of salaried jobs, which are of better quality than non-salaried jobs. The manufacturing sector had to let go of 0.8 million people while the services sector took in only an additional half a million people.

Noting the fall of other sources of employment falling in 2020 after the onset of the pandemic, Vyas observed that the increase in the employment of agricultural labourers was mostly disguised unemployment. Attributing the fall in salaried jobs which are of relatively better quality to the number of lockdowns since early 2020, he also raised a warning on these labourers losing this source of employment once the kharif sowing season ends and the need for the economy to ensure the provision of alternative employment to these labourers once the season ends.

In the background of a recovering economy, declining severity of the COVID-19 situation, and the upcoming festive season, it is likely that around 0.3 million to 0.5 million seasonal jobs will be created to meet the demand for temporary staff with a 35 percent increase since last year. Several ecommerce, food delivery, automobile, manufacturing and allied sectors are anticipating a boom in their businesses during the festive season, along with increased consumer spending. Consequently, this shall result in a surge in the demand for delivery partners, picker/packers, store promoters, logistics staff, field sales and customer care executives to handle the extra load, as affirmed by Manu Saigal, director general of staffing, Adeco India. The demand for temporary workers from financial services, consumer goods, retail, IT and telecom industries has also hiked, according to staffing services companies such as Quess, TeamLease Services, Randstad, Adecco, Manpower and KellyOCG.

Festive season and ecommerce companies provide a ray of hope in terms of hiring
The pandemic has led to ecommerce gaining acceptance and popularity across India (including towns and villages), becoming a major source of income for various businesses and a key source of demand for more employees. The hiring of temporary staff is expected to increase by 40 percent over previous months in tech startups, food delivery and ecommerce companies, according to Yeshab Giri, director, staffing, Randstad India. The sector is anticipated to bring around 40 million active shoppers in 2021, raising its user base to 190 million, according to Ajoy Thomas, business head (retail, ecommerce, logistics and transportation), TeamLease Services, who also believes that this growth would improve hiring in the segment, with the festive season expected to contribute to the same. With retail giant Flipkart having opened several large and small warehouses across India and increasing the supply chain significantly, several full-time and seasonal job opportunities are expected to be created. Staffing firms have noted that companies such as Flipkart, Amazon, Swiggy, Zomato, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Byju’s, Vedanta, Hindustan Unilever, Samsung, Xiaomi and Tata AIG have been actively hiring temporary staff.

The bolstering of a digital economy and widening acceptance of virtual working for sales and distribution jobs also led to an increase in the opportunities for women to gain employment in fields involving interactions which can be managed through apps and calls, according to a study titled “The Impact of COVID 19 and Industry 4.0 on Future of Work for Women, An Insight from Formal Sector in India”. The study mentions that alternative work arrangements in the gig economy (which involves temporary contracts or freelance work rather than permanent jobs) contain the potential to boost the participation of women in the workforce. It lists health and pharmaceuticals (by 59 per cent), electrical and electronics (by 44 per cent) and fast-moving consumer goods (perishable goods) industry (by 41 per cent) as the key sectors likely to witness the increase in its women employees.

The future of the economy
One may be hopeful that the Indian economy ison the correct recovery track with reopening of businesses and their efforts in working around the challenges posed by the pandemic. With a higher estimate of consumer spending, the demand for jobs in the retail sector is expected to drive job growth in the country.Special emphasis has also been given to the necessity to work towards the increasing investments in order to compensate for the jobs lost during the pandemic, to aid swift economic recovery.

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