Year 2020: India’s job market may see further dip; demand for tech skills to continue

While 2019 was the worst year for the job market with lay-offs across sectors, the year 2020 doesn’t look promising either in terms of fresh hiring.


The economic slump in the year 2019 has adversely impacted employment generation in the country. Several companies across industry verticals such as automobile, engineering and manufacturing laid off employees during the year with India’s unemployment rate touching a 45-year high.

According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data, unemployment has only risen in the country. In December 2019, India recorded 7.7 per cent in unemployment rate, slightly higher than 7.48 per cent reported in November 2019. In October 2019, the unemployment rate increased to 8.50 per cent in October 2019 from 7.20 per cent in the previous month. Unemployment averaged 5.16 per cent from 1983 until 2019 and reached a record low of 3.53 per cent in December 2011.

While 2019 was the worst year for the job market, the year 2020 doesn’t look promising either for fresh graduates. The market this year is expected to remain muted in terms of workforce expansion and salary hikes.

In 2020, companies will focus more on making the best of available human resources and on re-skilling the existing employees, rather than hiring new workforce. And, technology-driven disruptions will continue to play a prominent role.

“2020 is expected to stay flat in terms of employment or, at best, have a marginal growth. With the GDP and key economic indicators yet to pick up steam, it remains to be seen if consumption and/or investments will go up and, if they do, then we have hope for employment growth,” PTI quoted Rituparna Chakraborty, president, Indian Staffing Federation, as saying.

The job market to see further dip in 2020

Besides lay-offs across sectors, workforce headcounts have also gone low. For instance: in the information technology (IT) sector, the overall hiring has dipped by five per cent. According to a report revealed by Experis IT Employment Outlook Survey (EITEOS) in October last year, the overall IT hiring intention for the period between October 2019-March 2020 stood at 47.54 per cent, down from 53.41 per cent in the last six months.

As slowdown has hit companies across sectors, hiring experts say the job market will remain dull or further drop in 2020. Sunil Goel, managing director of executive search firm GlobalHunt India, says,

“Initial quarter of 2020 may not be very exciting since the GDP growth has gone down and the organizations are being cautious for their expansions or new initiatives.”

Reskilling to be a priority

Besides automation and artificial intelligence (AI), the major hiring trends in 2019 were driven by niche skills, new-age positions and roles. Re-skilling was the focus. According to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs 2018’ report, more than one-half of India’s workforce will need to be reskilled by 2022 to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


Zarius Master, CEO of online job search portal believes that re-skilling will be a priority even in 2020.

“India’s widening skill-gap has been a cause for concern for a while now. Data suggests that there will be 29 million skills in deficit by 2030. The bulk of these missing skills will be soft skills, with two-thirds of the jobs created between now and then expected to be strongly reliant on skills like communication and empathy.”

To address this skills shortage, Master adds, recruiters are shifting their focus and hiring professionals with the ability to adapt to changing roles in flexible organizational structures. ”As huge number of Gen-Z professionals will be entering the workforce over the coming years, the current workforce will have to re-skill itself extensively to stay relevant.”

AI/ML, data science jobs will continue to see upward trend

With the ever-changing technological landscape, businesses have experienced a rapid change of skill needs and requirement. Today, companies look for niche skills when hiring. Artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), Internet of Things (IoT), design thinking, robotic process automation, digital marketing, and natural language processing/generation (NLP/NLG) are some of the crucial skills.

Organizations are focused upon re-skilling and up-skilling their workforce, according to Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, an online assessment platform Mercer Mettl, and most sought after skills were in new age technology spaces like AI/ML, IoT, and data science space. Many organisations adopted predictive analytics to hire for performance, lower attrition and better cultural fitment among other competencies, he adds.

Gupta opines that “better people will remain the biggest differentiator” and that’s why workplace learning will see continued investments. “Organisations will focus on building an intelligent workforce with high learning agility so that they can adapt and respond to technological inventions/disruptions. Also, processes around flexi-hiring, information security, and GDPR would have to be given special emphasis.”

Overall, 2019 saw a great demand for tech-based skill sets concerning to AI/ML and data analytics. Continuing the trend, headhunters see a significant change in demanded skills even related to mid-level jobs.

Another trend of 2019 that is expected to grow stronger in the coming years is the shift towards flexibility at work.’s Future of Flexible Working survey highlighted that more than 60 per cent of new-age professionals, particularly millennials, demanded more flexible working options. Organizations are also eager to embrace new-age HR practices that are aligned with the requirements of their workforce. It indicated a growing acceptance of non-conventional HR policies amongst key business decision-makers.

Also, the HR experts believe technology continues to change the way we work and soft skills are becoming crucial differentiator as most companies believe that along with technical skills soft skills such as teamwork, creativity, critical thinking, also contribute to its success.



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