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Employment Outlook: India

by Mary Anne Thompson

The world’s largest democracy and one of its largest economies, India has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years. India is now the world’s fastest growing economy, with a very optimistic employment outlook, according to Mary Anne Thomson, President and Founder of GoinGlobal.

India currently boasts the world’s most optimistic employment outlook, with robust hiring expected over the next few months, according to Manpower Group. Moreover, the country plans to create about 1 million new jobs over the next year. Its unemployment is a low 4.9 percent, with 4 percent expected for 2016. India’s burgeoning middle class, growing domestic markets and large English-speaking population all work in the country’s favor, pointing to a likely prosperous future.

Growth Sectors

  • E-commerce
  • Pharmaceuticals/biotechnology
  • Life sciences/health care
  • Information technology
  • Manufacturing
  • Logistics
  • Infrastructure

Employment Outlook

Key Trends

Major issues for employers include employees’ aptitude for a job, their skill levels and cultural fit, according to human resources firm Randstad.

Competition for talent: India’s war for talent has grown fiercer than ever. As multinational corporations (MNCs) and technology industries increase in India, competition is keen for high-quality candidates, particularly technology professionals.   

Contract and fixed-term workers: India has proposed regulations to make it easier to hire contract and fixed-term employees. In the next few months, 60,000 to 80,000 temporary jobs are set to be created. Many of these jobs will be in e-commerce, retail and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods). Companies hiring include Amazon, Flipkart, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Mondolez, Grofers, Urban Ladder and Pepperfry.

Women in the workforce: India has one of the lowest rates of women among its peer

countries, according to the IMF. Although more women are being hired, and policies are being put in place, few women are in leadership positions. One exception is India’s banking sector, where some women are heading the top banks.

Social networking and job boards are the two main sources of hiring in India.

Medium Term

Going forward, India’s government plans not only massive infrastructure improvements but also to create 100 new smart cities by 2020 and provide vocational training for 500 million people by 2022. One smart city, GIFT, near Ahmedabad, has the goal of creating 1 million jobs by 2024, many of which will be in financial services, according to The Economist.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)

India’s SMEs are expected to increase to 22 percent of the country’s GDP by 2020. They currently account for 40 percent of the country’s workforce and 45 percent of its manufacturing output.

Expats in India

Only about 39,000 expatriates are working in India today. Hiring of expats in India has slowed recently as employers seek local candidates. Indian companies, both large and medium-sized, will hire expats if the cost of hiring them is the same as for locals. The majority of expat hiring is at senior levels. Typically, expats are sent to India by multinational companies. For expatriates already in India, finding work can be difficult, and salaries are far below those in the West.

Areas of Job Promise

Jobs in the core engineering sector -- oil, power and minerals -- and sales jobs in retail, hospitality, IT and BFSI (banking, financial services and insurance) will be in great supply.

Talent Shortages

Lack of skills is a common reason for vacancies in India. In fact, 58 percent of employers in India are having difficulty finding the right talent. This is far above the global average of 38 percent, and the second highest in Asia, according to Manpower Group. The ten positions that are hardest to fill in India include: 

  • Accounting and finance staff
  • IT personnel
  • Secretaries and administrative assistants
  • Teachers
  • Engineers
  • Marketing/communications/PR staff
  • Sales managers
  • Managers and executives
  • Legal staff
  • Researchers (R&D)

Leaders Needed

India continues to suffer from a major “leadership capability gap,” according to Deloitte, and the shortage of leaders is actually increasing.

Skills in Demand

The greatest talent need in India today is for professionals with SMAC skills: social media, mobility, analytics and cloud computing. IT firms are expected to hire more than 30,000 people this year, including people from other disciplines as well.

Online demand for senior managers has seen the strongest long-term growth rate in India, according to Monster India.

Creative and arts professionals are also increasingly sought.

General Salary Trends

Salaries in India are low:

  • 57 USD: Minimum monthly wage
  • 262 USD: Average monthly wage in Delhi
  • 400 USD: Average monthly wage for recent graduates

And, though somewhat better, pay is low even for experienced middle management professionals: 56,530 USD per year for an engineering manager, about half of what he would earn in China and one-third of the earnings in Singapore.

Expats fare far better than locals, however. The gross pay package for expatriates in India averages about 300,000 USD per year, according to ECA International.

Increases: Overall, employees in India will see salary increases averaging 10.7 percent this year, with professionals in life sciences/pharmaceuticals/health care, and infrastructure/retail commanding the highest increases of about 12 percent, according to Deloitte. Raises for executive, senior and middle managers will likely average 10.7 percent.

Bonuses: Variable pay across industry sectors is likely to average more than 17 percent, with top managers in some industries such as pharmaceuticals receiving bonuses of 25 percent or more.


India does have challenges, including poor infrastructure, a lack of quality higher education, rampant poverty and a large informal sector that lacks benefits and job security. The country’s young population, growing middle class and enormous amount of job opportunities helps offset its weaknesses. With more than one million job openings projected for 2016, India remains a country on the rise and one to watch.  


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