The whole pace for how we prepared for 5G got accelerated because of the Covid outbreak. To me, 5G is the underlying technology that can bring this whole thing around low latency that creates seamless experience for people.
The 5G roll out will bring in significant hiring opportunities in India, and Ericsson India is betting big on it. Priyanka Anand, vice-president and head of HR (South East Asia, Oceania & India), Ericsson, told FE’s Shubhra Tandon that company is training staff internally and also plans to hire fresh talent to meet the growing demand. Excerpts:
Why should organisations prepare for 5G?
The whole pace for how we prepared for 5G got accelerated because of the Covid outbreak. To me, 5G technology can bring in low latency that creates seamless experience for people. So, its not just about high speed, but also about fast data and high security, especially in high-tech industries like ours. So, what 5G can do is enable seamless collaboration, it’s about people’s expectations and behaviours changing, and therefore 5G has to be embraced by industries all across.
5G being a new technology, what sort of talent do we have, what sort of training and re-training is needed and what is Ericsson doing in this area?
Ericsson is looking at how to develop talent internally. We have an academy, a focus, we have a concentrated platform available to create curated learning opportunities and learning experiences for our people. It’s anytime, anywhere learning just like anywhere, anytime working. We ensure that whether it’s about 5G, IoT or cloud computing, there’s enough talent for these technologies. We will also be hiring fresh talent coming from the market and universities; we are looking at how to create those learning opportunities and talent repositories by buying, acquiring and building talent.
How many people are getting trained in this technology at Ericsson, can you discuss hiring plans for the year?
It is difficult to comment in terms of numbers. It is always a combination of what’s the demand, what we can refurbish, up-skill and re-skill internally, and what we need to get from the market. So, I think 20% of what exactly competence demands in the market sits with Ericsson. But this number is iffy, and as things accelerate, customer demands accelerate. We continue to look at a conservative increase of between 5% and 10%, but the number can get absolutely swayed this way or that way, depending on the customer demand, competence demand and how we can accelerate our internal confidence funnel. The current headcount in India is at 20,000-plus people sitting across delivery centres and regional operations.
What kind of openings do you see in telecom, apart from 5G technology?
IoT, cloud computing, OSS and BSS remain priority, but we will definitely have a huge focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning, which create greater deal of efficiencies and we enable our people to spend time on more cerebral piece of work, because the transaction piece gets taken care of by these automations. Some employment reports suggest 18-20% growth in employment opportunities in the telecom space.
The demand for niche technologies is going higher and it is being said that talent is becoming expensive to acquire. Are you facing that challenge as well?
War for talent is definitely getting more intensified. We are not oblivious of the fact that we will have to do everything possible to be able to retain the best talent that we have, and also invest hugely on the attractiveness and do what it takes to provide people with development opportunities, ensuring that we prepare people not just for here and now, but make them future proof.
Has salary cost gone up with intensification of talent?
Salary cost is an elusive concept. If we have more people, of course salary cost will go up. At every given point in time, we benchmark our compensation with all the benchmarking firms who tell us what is the right compensation and the skills that we hire for. We have always made and endeavour to keep ourselves competitive within that range.
Has there been an increase in contract staffing for Ericsson?
Contract staffing forms 40% of the workforce, and there has been an increase in hiring in the last one to two years. India has always been a major contributor in overall market area hiring, these numbers will again increase due to the demand in 5G . I would expect to see an increase in workforce by approximately 10% in India for the year 2021. The projected hiring will almost be to a similar level as this year.