Hiring activity across sectors declined nearly 8 per cent year-on-year in February, and increased 3 per cent month-on-month, according to foundit Insights Tracker.

The index has jumped from 262 to 269 in the first two months of 2024, suggesting a positive outlook in employment opportunities.

Industries such as oil, gas, petroleum, power, and IT-hardware and software showed strong performance with each of the sector noting a 7 per cent increase in hiring. The government’s emphasis on renewable energy and electrification projects may have had a hand in enhancing recruitment in the power sector.

The IT-hardware & software sectors bounced back to 7 per cent increase reflects a resurgence in demand for skilled professionals in these fields, driven by technological advancements. The uptick in production and manufacturing at 6 per cent signals a robust rebound, driven partly by the impact of production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes.

Sectors like media and entertainment, FMCG and chemicals experienced a 3 per cent uptick, showing a gradual return to normalcy in these segments.

Fresher hiring in start-ups

In February, the job market for freshers in India presented a complex picture, marked by a 12 per cent decline in hiring compared to the same period in 2023.

Despite this drop, the landscape revealed a notable surge in applications, witnessing a 24 per cent increase. This surge led to a competitive environment, with approximately six applicants vying for each available position. This heightened competition is attributed to a larger pool of job seekers seeking limited opportunities.

Despite the overall decline in freshers’ hiring, technology sector, particularly IT-Hardware & Software, emerged at the top with a 17 per cent share of jobs, healthcare emerged as a surprising growth sector, doubling its share from 5 per cent to 10 per cent.

The start-ups saw a significant decline in their role in entry-level hiring, contributing only 3 per cent of jobs compared to 14 per cent in the previous year due to funding challenges or strategic adjustments in their hiring practices to adapt to market condition.

Delhi-NCR tops charts

Geographically, Delhi-NCR maintained its lead position with a 19 percent share of job postings, followed by Bangalore (13 per cent) and Mumbai (10 per cent). Major cities like Chennai (8 per cent), Pune (7 per cent), Hyderabad (7 per cent), Kolkata (4 per cent) and Ahmedabad (4 per cent) witnessed relatively stable shares of job postings.

“Through our tracker, we could trace the steady monthly growth in hiring activity. The positive momentum in certain sectors like manufacturing and energy are encouraging signs. However, freshers face a challenging landscape with increased competition and fewer opportunities. This highlights the importance of equipping oneself with relevant skills and building strong profiles to stand out in this competitive environment,” said Sekhar Garisa, CEO, foundit (previously Monster APAC & ME), a Quess company.

Hiring trends

The demand for software, hardware, and telecom roles remained high, although showing a slight decrease from 32 per cent in February 2023 to 27 per cent in February 2024. While sales & business Development saw a significant rise in demand, increasing from 13 per cent to 21 per cent.

However, HR & Admin roles witnessed a sharp decline, dropping from 17 per cent to 4 per cent, indicating potential automation or a re-evaluation of administrative needs by companies.

The period under consideration saw a change in demand for qualifications. Pointing to a saturation in the IT sector, there was a decrease in demand from 19 per cent to 13 per cent for IT graduates. Similarly, management graduates saw a slightly lower share, dropping from 11 per cent to 10 per cent.