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Startups Plan For 'Judicious' Hiring As IT Talent Surplus Becomes a Possibility With IT companies being expected to significantly cut down on fresh recruitments this year, will startups actively pursue the resultant large availability of engineers at a reasonable cost despite the ongoing funding winter?

By Soumya Duggal

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The recent mass layoffs at global giants such as Meta, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft amid global macroeconomic stresses, including rising inflation, the war in Europe and the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank, have created a grim environment in the tech world in India and abroad.

In light of these and other challenges, net hiring of engineers by Indian IT companies is expected to be halved in FY24 compared to the addition in FY23, according to Teamlease, a platform for specialised staffing solutions across industries. A silver lining, if you will, might be the opportunity such a circumstance would create for Indian startups to recruit talent at somewhat reasonable rates. How will the ongoing funding winter, however, define their ability to capitalise on this emerging opportunity?

"The current round of layoffs by large IT companies will make resources available for others to absorb. However, owing to the ongoing funding crunch, most startups are not looking at bulking up their lateral hires; they might be more keen to hire fresh candidates and train them to become productive resources," says Shantanu Rooj, Founder and CEO, TeamLease Edtech.

Reputed startups such as edtech unicorn PhysicsWallah and Bengaluru-based spacetech firm Pixxel plan to follow a cautious approach of hiring only on a needs-specific basis while devoting more energy to helping the current workforce expand their skill sets. "We are committed to upskilling and reskilling our existing employees, while also attracting top IT talent through broad outreach via social media and other channels," states Satish Khengre, HR head, PhysicsWallah. According to CEO Awais Ahmed, Pixxel will continue to be "judicious" and "careful" in hiring for the organisation's genuine requirements only.

According to Prasad Sreeram, the CEO and co-founder of logistics solutions provider COGOS, opportunities for good IT talent in India are still abundant but whether startups would rush to tap them is unclear. "Startups have generally become much more diligent towards profitability and many enterprises are reducing their dependence on senior managers and focusing on training existing engineers or junior talent. In that sense, recruitments might stabilise a bit, though they would not stop altogether," he says.

Blockchain unicorn startup 5ire is optimistic about the emerging possibility of a surplus of engineers in the near future but insists that recruitments will be driven far more by considerations of the value these incoming employees might create rather than their sheer numbers. "We must welcome the newly relieved talent from Silicon Valley into India. It is a great time for startups to snatch talent at a reasonable price, but it is more essential to seek partners rather than workers," says Pratik Gauri, co-founder and CEO, 5ire.

Soumya Duggal

Former Feature Writer

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