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BPO wave leads to more jobs in manufacturing

N.S. Vageesh

Chennai , March 7

FLIP through job advertisements and you'll find four out of five still seem to be in the information technology sector. But there is an incipient recovery in the jobs scene in the manufacturing sector.

The pick-up is palpable in a few segments — auto components and auto ancillaries, consumer electronics, construction projects and even textiles. A quick look at some of the recent advertisers seems to confirm this — Lucas-TVS, L&T, Rane, MRF, among others. To be sure, some of this is for replacement of existing staff, but many companies are also filling new slots and hiring from campuses.

A clue to what is happening in the manufacturing arena is provided by Mr E. Balaji, General Manager (Staffing Solutions), Ma Foi Consultants. "Manufacturing sector companies are beginning to negotiate salaries. Earlier, they had a take-it-or-leave-it approach. That is changing now. And they are going for additional shifts and working for the full week rather than the three or four days per week earlier."

He, however, concedes, "The euphoria that you might see in the service sector is not seen here. But increased demand is helping ease out the earlier overcapacity in the manufacturing sector. Companies are now increasing their intake."

Some companies returned to the job market recently. Eicher Motors, for instance, has begun recruitments this year after a two-year lull. Explains Mr Samson Jose, DGM-HR, Royal Enfield, a unit of Eicher Motors: "Recruitments are being done for some of the opportunities that will come in the next two to three years. New technologies, especially in plastics, are throwing up opportunities for engineers."

The entry of multinationals and their vendors has created a splash in the job market. A lot of their research & development design centres in India are absorbing industrial/design engineers. Among those looking for this type of talent were Delphi, ABB, GM and DaimlerChrysler.

According to Mr A. Aravamudhan, Executive Vice-President (HR), Lucas-TVS, "The pick-up is due to the arrival of multinationals, their outsourcing from India, relocation of MNC ancillaries in India and the establishment of their R&D facilities here. Many domestic companies do lose talent because of these reasons."

He adds, "Engineers working in in-house R&D, quality and manufacturing systems engineering do have tremendous market potential."

Mr E. Balaji interprets this development, saying, "An engineering BPO is happening. The cost-advantage for the MNC in India is said to be 60 per cent. We expect more jobs to come in the Delhi, Chennai, Pune belt."

Expansion plans have also seen companies increasing their manpower intake substantially. Dr Yasho Varma, Vice-President (HR & MS), LG India, says, "We recently started the production of compressors in the Greater Noida facility in India and have recruited 190 people for that. We are also setting up a second manufacturing facility in Pune for which we would recruit over 300 people. The sales & marketing division for LGEIL is also showing rapid expansion because of the introduction of various products, which will need additional recruitment of about 150 people. Overall, the consumer durable industry is seeing good growth and thereby will have increasing demands for manpower."

So will manufacturing companies find it easier to attract talent? Some HR heads such as Mr B.N. Sarangi, Chief of HR, Tata Steel, are optimistic. "The Indian psyche is tilted more towards secure jobs and the manufacturing sector provides just that," he says.

The software sector had better watch out.

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