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The Indian IT sector sees demand for contract positions in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity

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The Indian IT sector, which has shown resilience in the face of challenges such as automation and economic slowdown, is seeing an increase in demand for contract positions, particularly in emerging technology fields such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and cybersecurity, according to a new report published by recruitment firm NLB Services on Thursday.

As of FY23-24, the Indian technology industry employed 5.39 million people but was driven by multiple factors such as economic slowdown, automation, restructuring and reduction in discretionary spending; in recent quarters, IT companies have recorded a decline in employment. However, the IT sector in the country is also witnessing a resurgence in contract employment.

It is worth noting that there is significant demand for contract roles in sectors such as IT, consumer durables, e-commerce, GCC and retail, with the number of these roles expected to increase by 40-50% between 2023 and 2024, NLB Services data showed .
The most in-demand skills in technology staffing include Google Cloud, data analytics, AI/ML, application development, ERP, networking, GenAI, and cybersecurity. Moreover, the average demand for UI/UX designers, data analysts, data analysts, etc. – is almost 30%.

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While these roles will continue to evolve, some traditional roles such as computer programming (C/Java), web development, mobile app development, cloud computing, web/app development and cloud architecture will likely be redefined, he cautioned Sachin Alug, CEO, NLB Services.
Another interesting trend is that today’s IT sector offers a number of positions that are immune to economic downturns. Profiles such as DevOps, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning, and Data Science, among others, are likely to maintain high demand in the coming 2-3 years. Additionally, recruitment for technology roles in non-technology sectors such as telecom, banking and financial services, insurance (BFSI), retail and e-commerce, and healthcare is expected to grow by at least 10-12% on average.

As artificial intelligence introduces change at an unprecedented pace, the need to constantly upskill employees is becoming more and more visible and consistent. Over the last decade, many initiatives have been taken such as industry-academia collaboration, Digital India and Skill India government interventions, enterprises prioritizing upskilling, etc., which have played a key role in driving the skilling agenda.

However, technology professionals equipped with traditional skill sets are witnessing a decline in demand due to the disruptive forces of artificial intelligence, robotics and changing skill requirements. In light of this changing landscape, there is a critical need for interventions such as effective upskilling, retention strategies and succession plans. In particular, organizations need to take a thoughtful and proactive approach to developing skills and capabilities, particularly in the field of artificial intelligence, to successfully navigate this era of transformation.

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“Despite the recent turmoil in the tech ecosystem, the resurgence in contract employment and the surge in demand for talent for emerging technology roles at both tech and non-tech companies heralds a new dawn for the sector. As we navigate the disruption caused by artificial intelligence and automation, organizations, educational institutions and governing bodies must work together to support opportunities and create a robust pool of skilled talent for the future,” Alug said.

A report released by TechCircle on Wednesday showed that four of the top five technology companies – TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL and Tech Mahindra – saw their headcount decline by the end of the fiscal year on March 31, 2024. Despite this trend, HCL Tech was the only company that recorded an increase in employment.

Overall, these companies collectively laid off about 70,000 workers last year, offsetting the 56,000 workers hired the previous year. To remain competitive, many of these large and medium-sized enterprises are now focusing on hiring specialists on a contract basis and providing their employees with training in cutting-edge technologies.

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