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December 09, 2008

Until last year, the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector owned the privilege of being the most sought after segment for employment. With an average growth of around 10 per cent, BFSI pitched in over 55 per cent to the GDP in FY'08. The Information Technology industry, the next most preferred segment, owed a part of its accelerated growth to the heavy expenditure on it by BFSI.

Predicting the hottest sectors, a year earlier, was no tough cookie. But the current economic meltdown has made matters a little complicated, with its direct and most severe impact felt by the BFSI, and an indirect impact on the IT segment.

The massive jolt to its flagship industry, BFSI, caused the services sector to lose some importance to its counter parts, with the manufacturing sector engulfing a larger portion of the economic pie. Within the manufacturing sector, the three industries that currently appear most promising are: Pharmaceuticals, Automotive and Power.

Pharmaceutical sector
The mammoth Rs 36,000 crore Indian pharmaceutical industry shows no sign of relenting under the current financial crisis. Dealing with relatively inelastic goods, untapped markets and rising consumer awareness, the industry is geared to grow at a rate of over 19 per cent in the next fiscal year. Indian pharmacy has already witnessed the rise of some world-class players, such as Ranbaxy [Get Quote], CIPLA and DRL, and the progress in this segment is only expected to rise.

Those graduates with a degree/diploma in BPharma, and interested in research, could expect to pursue rewarding careers with clinical research companies or research departments within leading pharmaceuticals. Other entry level jobs are available in the departments of production, purchase and sales; but a Bachelors degree in Pharma would go a long way here as well.

Automation sector
The past financial year saw the Indian automation industry grow at a very healthy rate. Even though this segment was affected by the economic slowdown, it jumped right back as companies from the automotive sector announced that there would be no downward revisions of previous production plans. Thus, for now, this industry would remain a lucrative opportunity for job seekers.

Graduates with a background in mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, electronic or production engineering would find attractive prospects in this sector. Entry level jobs are available in production or engineering. Both facets focus on cutting costs, raising efficiency and improving quality by replacing manpower with machines.

Power sector
Since the growth of many industries within the manufacturing sector has hardly been impeded by the meltdown, the power generation industry is, but obviously, expected to continue its progress as well. The growth that the power sector registered last year is expected to accelerate, with the recent N-deal between India and the USA adding to the demand for experts and skilled labor for setting up and operating nuclear power plants.

The power sector harbours an urgent need for graduates with a degree/diploma in electrical, mechanical or civil engineering. Entry level jobs will involve on-site work with the generation or distribution departments. Prospective employees need to be prepared to work far from cities or towns; and in case of emergencies, may be required to work 24/7.

Besides these industries from the manufacturing sector, there are two other industries, belonging to the services sector, that are sure to retain importance. These are the organised retail and IT segments.

Organised retail sector
Being part of the services sector, organised retail will not remain unscathed by the economic slowdown. But since it is still at a nascent stage, coupled with advantages such as increasing per capita purchasing power and rapid urbanisation, it will not be as impacted as the more developed industries. Its scope is still considerable, and though its growth rate of 20-25 per cent will take a hit, it will probably not fall as much as was predicted earlier.

Gaining a foothold in the retail sector does not require any specific educational background. But one must possess a pleasing personality, lots of patience, willingness to work for long hours and an eye for detail. A course in hospitality would be an added advantage.

Information technology sector
The IT industry (includes telecom and IT-enabled services), which has been a hot favourite in recent times, escapes the fate of BFSI, its largest patron, due to its massive spread across all sectors. Although pulled down from its pedestal, IT will salvage much of its share due to its rising demand among many up and coming industries.

The IT sector requires engineers from all backgrounds, and graduates with degrees/diplomas in BCA, MCA or BSc. There is plenty of demand for hardware as well as software developers who are willing to work long hours, face stiff deadlines and exhibit a keen interest in keeping themselves updated with the latest technology in their field.

The writer is Director, Career Launcher, an institute that trains candidates for competitive examinations like the CAT, SNAP, etc.

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