Saturday, February 26, 2011

Telcos on hiring spree

Staffing firms are set to rake in more revenues from the telecom sector, which is hiring temporary staffers in right earnest to meet the demand created by third-generation (3G) services, broadband wireless access and mobile number portability.

3G airwaves allow services such as high-speed internet, music, movies, TV, games and video conferencing on mobile phones seamlessly, while MNP allows mobile phone users to change their service provider keeping the same number. Over 17 lakh people availed of the MNP service from November to first week of February, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Bharti Airtel, Tata Docomo, Reliance Communications and Aircel have launched 3G services over the past quarter at competitive tariffs in the hope of driving up revenues in a capital-intensive industry. India is one of the fastest growing telephony markets in the world. Both services have transformed into fresh business for staffing firms, with telecom companies asking for sales, marketing and customer support professionals.

In the next nine months, there is a demand for 6,000 to 8,000 network engineers for infrastructure companies, sales and marketing employees for telecom firms, says Kamal Karanth, managing director of temp staffer Kelly Services. This includes indirect placements (people on the rolls of temp staffing firms) and direct placements (people on company rolls), such as that of mid-level customer care staff in BPOs.

Average billing per hire, or the money a staffing firm may make on a single recruit, could range from 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the annual package, says TeamLease senior manager for sourcing Abhijeet Poddar. The talent crunch in this sector will push salary hikes over the current 15 per cent to 20 per cent, he added.

"There will be a demand for feet-on-the-street. Circle level hiring is happening more than at the corporate level. Our estimates and client demand means at least 150 to 180 people getting hired every month," says Poddar. Hiring in the telecom sector could touch 1 lakh a year, for the next two to three years, says India's largest temping firm TeamLease Services.

At least six of every 10 hires would be in segments requiring technical skills. More people will be required at entry-to-mid levels as telecom companies and network providers head into rural areas. Staffing firm Manpower India's estimates are more conservative, at upwards of 10,000 sales executives hired in the next six months, based on requests from clients such as Nokia Siemens Networks, Idea Cellular, Uninor and Aircel.

"While new players are slowing down on recruitment in the face of uncertainties over 2G (second generation) spectrum allotment, bigger players are trying to gain by hiring them in a scarce talent market," said Manpower India managing director Sanjay Pandit.

Telecom equipment makers and network providers are also expected to hire for services related to broadband wireless access airwaves that are superior to 3G, allowing very high-speed internet access, telephony and TV over the internet. Mid-and senior leadership levels will be strengthened, says telecom tower provider Viom Networks chief executive officer Arun Kapur.

"Our business is currently in a growth phase with plans to add more tower infrastructure to our portfolio. Hiring will be across functions including those that have a direct impact on the quality of service and business growth," he adds.source

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