Monday, November 28, 2011

Visas : Vista for Talent Attraction & Engagement?

Would you believe it? US visas could perhaps also be used for talent attraction & talent engagement for employment in India as well:)!?

Well, most of are aware H1-B is essentially a non immigrant visa in the US used to employ temporary foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Over the years, and more so in the past couple of decades, it has been regulated as a measure of increasing /decreasing the supply of talent of foreigners in the US-and has probably contributed a lot of the fortunes of the off shoring/outsourcing industry in India.

In fact till the mid nineties one wasn't even aware that there was a cap on the number of visas granted -which then was 60,000 annually -and was periodically increased -and at one time peaking at 200,000 when the scare of Y2k was its highest-after which the old level has been restored.

In the recent past, there is a definite increasing trend for the demand of work visas in US- as we regularly see that the quota is used up in hardly a couple of months. The H1B is usually for 3yrs -and extendable for another 3yrs-as a routine. Some employers, in the better days, would even sponsor the green card application-which meant that the 'alien ' would become a citizen over a period of 6-10yrs in US!

-Considering the global slowdown, and the high unemployment rates prevalent in the US -we haven't seen many companies willing to hire non-citizens, and as a consequence, there is a large number of H1-B professionals-who stay has to come to an end-within 6yrs of their stay in the US. And this segment- is an attractive bunch of well qualified and appropriately experienced- talent that the Indian/MNCs in India-especially the R&D centres -have been eyeing. 

(Psst : Should you know of any MS with 5-6yrs exp in the US-be it Scientists, R&D engineers, or analysts, and planning to relocate back to India within the next 2-12months, please let me know. We have multiple openings with MNC clients in Pharma/ Automotive/  Healthcare/ CROs/ KPOs -who wouldd be keen to explore hiring such talent!!)

- Smaller ITES companies in India have been using it as a carrot to attract/retain potential employees in India- with a possible long term on site assignment in the US. And considering that the time taken ( the applications are accepted by the authorities in April every year-while they are processed only from October onwards!)  for  visa processing could hold back the potential employee from 6months to -say 12months-it means an opportunity to engage an exciting prospect for longer tenure & thus battling and even postponing attrition!!

Interesting? Please feel free to correct my impressions....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Job Surveys in India : Sombre in Short term

It is that part of the year-when the Indian industry-wakes up after the festival euphoria ( for most businesses, Diwali time is a pretty big season, and for the employees a great reason for bonuses/ appraisals!)-and tries to take stock of -the impending future!

The latest Business Outlook magazine predicts the returns of the pink slips in India!!

The graphic compares the figures by Ma Foi Ranstaad survey -is self explanatory. 

The article also lists out a rather uncomfortable run down of some of the big names -across different industries-that have either announced recent lay-offs globally and some in India.

Not to mention the sense of uncertainty-that fuels the rumours of a possible recruitment freeze in the coming couple of quarters!

Interestingly, the  traditional 'old economy'  manufacturing industry seems to be the only growing sector -as most others 'hitherto' fast growing employers -especially in the real estate, Energy and BFSI seem to have hit speed breakers!

Education, Training & Consultancy, as well as Health care & hospitality -being touted as the 'recession proof' domains-together contribute to a fair amount ! 

Personally I feel the overall global sentiments have percolated to most sectors within the country too. Most companies have tightened their belts-and have laid off 'non performers' over the last couple of years, and most importantly, haven't felt the need for 'back-filling' the jobs.

And focussing on keeping overall costs down, most companies have resorted to a variety of different modes :

-adopt a wait -and -watch policy and see how the economic situation plays out.

-a  'need based' and very selective senior-executive hires.

- reduce the ratio of support roles as compared to revenue-generating roles

-increasing the employability of the talent rather than hiring for doing a job!

-outsourcing the non- core roles in the support functions

-increasing the ratio of 'temporary staffing' to that on permanent roles until they are sure of the value add is imminent!

-- a change in the hiring strategy and increasing their ratio of campus hiring. Interestingly, the starting salaries of the freshers from campus-hasn't changed since the last couple of years.

-hiring 3-4 junior level independent contributors instead of hiring a manager

It is all happening right?

What worries me is that the domestic Indian growth story has been also hampered -due to the increasing interest rates. One has lost count..but I trust there have been atleast 13-14 hikes in the RBI repo rate -since March 2010. And add to the inflationary trends that the increase in petrol prices ..contributing very aggressively, it could turn into a 'catch 22' situation if the industrial/manfacturing sector would be affected!!
(Unless ofcourse the fall in the rupee motivates the industry to export more..and hope the dollar remittances would compensate??)

On the flip side- the tough times will certainly bring out the best in all...and who knows, the long term growth story may well be nearer !!

I would love to have your impressions...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jobs in India- Emerging global hub for 'invisible' innovation

It is a little uncanny that my last post -which was about 4 weeks ago-had also featured Thomas Friedman.

This time, it is triggered by the book  India Inside:By Nirmalya Kumar & Phanish Puranam as they presented the same at ISB, Hyderabad earlier this evening-which they admit was inspired by Tom Friedman's book "The World is Flat"-which alluded that innovation will continue to keep the West economically supreme, with the "more sophisticated tasks being done in the developed world, and the less sophisticated tasks in the developing world-where each has its comparative advantage".

The authors pointed that much of the substantial innovation that took place- has been invisible, and went on to dwell on the research with some of  "R&D work done in India-but for the global customers"-has been world class-and is poised to grow to a next level!

I personally was intrigued to be enlightened to the concept of the 'sinking skill ladder' that they elaborated!

What is a skill ladder? The idea that to do highly sophisticated innovative work, you need to have done less sophisticated work at some stage in your career. Imagine being the partner at a consulting firm without having been an associate, an investment banker without having been an analyst or the head of a clinical research team without having done any “bench-work.”
The work that the juniors do in each of these cases may be fully separable from the work that the seniors do; indeed the junior could be somebody sitting in India. However, in each of these cases, the seniors will continue to have a deep understanding of what exactly the juniors do because they have been juniors themselves at an earlier stage of their careers. Without such knowledge, arguably the seniors could not do their own jobs effectively.
A problem lies ahead: Western companies are blocking their talent pipelines. Without that route, how will tomorrow’s senior leaders emerge? Unless they have grappled with this question, it seems facile to say that companies in the West can “move up into higher-value-added services” and leave the “low end” work to their counterparts in Asia.
In some sense, the problem for managers of companies from the developed world is less complicated: they can move the next rung of their R&D, and even their headquarters, to where it can be done more effectively and efficiently. However, disconcerting questions for policy makers in developed countries will remain.
My take away on the implications of the kind of jobs that will be on offer in India!!?
1. There are over 600 global R&D Centres of MNCs in India- that are already following the delivery model where innovative and creative tasks are increasingly being off shored to India. And these have been across different industry domains- automotive, telecom, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, ...
2. MNCs are transforming composition of their global leadership teams as R&D and markets move to the East.
(The HBR abstract of the article is a must read!)
3. The increasing opportunities are more Indian IT services companies invest in building their specific practices -to provide 'outsourced product development' to smaller companies in the West
4. The growing Eco-system in the start up ecosystem-is enticing some of the 'experienced' professionals to embark on entrepreneurial ventures...
For specific opportunities, please feel free to reach me out offline !