The downsizing in the IT industry may expedite the move towards the development of a labour market dominated by short-term contracts and freelance work.
Sudipto Dey discusses the changing nature of jobs with Paul Dupuis, who recently took charge as India head of HR services major Randstad.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Paul Dupuis recently took charge as head of India operations of Dutch HR services major Randstad, the No 2 globally.
In his first media interaction, he discusses how the downsizing in the information technology industry may expedite the move towards development of a gig economy -- a labour market dominated by short-term contracts and freelance work -- in India.
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What is Randstad's India strategy?
As a global firm, we want to be among the top three in any market we enter. In India, this is within reach when we look at the market.
If one looks at the 38 countries we are in, most of them have three or four players commanding around 30-40 per cent of the market share.
India, on the other hand, is a very fragmented market and there is no single dominant player across categories. It is still an immature market -- evolving and emerging in terms of industry best practices, regulation, and compliance.
In the last four years, we have refocused on our core business. We are well positioned in structure and brand proposition in terms of go-to-market strategy.
Where do you see the Indian market in the next three years?
It does not motivate me to set a goal to be No 1. One can buy market share to do that.
For me, the key is that we are the most important partner for our candidates and clients. Exclusivity is very important. We measure our success on the number of exclusive partnerships we have.
From a scope and size standpoint, we want to double the size of our business in the next two-three years.
What are your views on the man vs machine debate and its impact on job creation?
When robots were introduced in the assembly line, it created many high-skilled jobs. But someone had to design, manufacture and care for them. The quality control bit was always managed by humans.
So, I don’t buy the argument that chatbots and artificial intelligence will eliminate jobs from a net-net standpoint. In fact, it opens up more jobs for people that are needed around it.
What is your message to tech workers when the industry is going through the downsizing?
Be agile, ready to re-skill. New roles will need an agile workforce. New opportunities are emerging in the e-payment and digital spaces.
How have social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, etc impacted your business?
Social networks have helped us to map the market. Clients are now discovering it is better to outsource this to companies like us.
Globally, Randstad has invested in many new technologies and we plan to bring them here. The gig economy throws up huge opportunities in India.
Do you see the gig economy gaining strength in India?
Eventually, it has to. For instance, the downsizing of the information technology (IT) industry here brings opportunities for the gig economy.
We are developing a virtual bench for IT services. We have identified some skills and want to build on them and add value to customers.