Indian IT Firms Face Workforce Decline as Economic and Geopolitical Risks Grow
Top IT companies in India are experiencing a decline in their workforce for the first time in over 25 years. The workforce reduction comes as clients in the US and Europe cut spending due to rising economic and geopolitical risks. Nine out of the top 10 software services firms in India, which employ more than 2 million engineers, have seen their workforce shrink in the six-month period ending on September 30th.
The decline in the IT industry is not entirely unexpected, as the sector has been grappling with slowing growth for the past year. Clients have been cutting back on discretionary spending due to high interest rates and military conflicts in Ukraine and West Asia. Additionally, the rise of disruptive technologies like generative artificial intelligence (AI) has raised concerns that much of the work done by engineers will be automated, posing a threat to the outsourcing industry.
A Mint analysis revealed that the 10 largest IT companies, including Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, saw their workforce fall to 2.06 million people at the end of September, resulting in a loss of 51,744 jobs. This trend suggests that Indian IT companies may end the fiscal year with fewer employees than they started with.
While some companies refute claims of not hiring, they acknowledge that the number of new hires cannot offset the natural attrition rate. As a result, the overall workforce is expected to be smaller by the end of the year. However, one company, L&T Technology Services, has bucked the trend by expanding its workforce by 32 people in the last six months.
Industry experts believe that these are challenging times for IT behemoths, with changing deal types, pressure on margins, and looming uncertainty leaving companies with limited options for their talent strategy. They suggest considering alternative talent options like staffing and gigs, along with productivity-increasing technologies.
Overall, the declining workforce is a reflection of the economic uncertainties faced by the IT industry. Wipro, for example, expects its revenue to decline in the December quarter, following three consecutive quarters of revenue decline. However, industry experts predict that the mandates will open up again from April-May next year.
The workforce decline in Indian IT firms highlights the need for companies to adapt to the changing landscape and find innovative solutions to stay competitive. While the industry faces challenges, it also presents opportunities for growth and transformation.