The telecom sector and its associated industries are undergoing a major restructuring, which is likely to continue in 2018-19 as well. With a series of mergers and acquisitions taking place and certain companies shutting down their mobile operations, the sector is facing major job cuts. These job losses are taking place at almost all levels, from entry-level engineers and managers, to middle-level professionals and the top management. The situation is compounded by the slower growth in the economy, specifically in the technology services sector, during the last two to three quarters.
There is hardly any social security in India as compared to the US or most of the European countries. As such, the sudden loss of jobs and livelihood is creating major turmoil for many professionals. It also has serious implications for engineering institutes, where electronics and communication engineering, a field that had been a highly sought-after for the past 30 years or so, is now losing its sheen and very few graduates are opting for it now.
Suggestions for telecom professionals
Be open to relocation
Even though chances of finding a job in the telecom sector are few, professionals should explore positions in locations that have otherwise been difficult for operators to fill with the required resources, for example, the Northeast, Jammu & Kashmir, and certain southern states. Besides, there are other markets like Africa, Southeast Asia and South Africa outside India. The telecom sector in these regions is at a developing stage and employment opportunities exist, which can be explored.
Options with technology vendors
Technology vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, Samsung, Tejas, Wipro, IBM, Amdocs and Aricent are continuing to receive orders from operators for equipment supply, network upgradation and expansion for pan-Indian projects. Hence, openings with these technology vendors can be explored. It is important to remain updated about the contract allocation and other related news about these vendors.
Opportunities in alternative sectors
Till the situation in the sector recovers, a switch to an alternative sector or domain can be considered. Some options for technology/management professionals could be as follows:
- Smart city, security and surveillance.
- System integrators and own ventures.
- Education sector/Private universities and institutes.
- Cable and broadcasting sector.
- IP partners like Indus, ATC and Bharti Infratel.
- Project-based contract assignments.
This change in domain/sector will give the opportunity to professionals to make a new beginning and ensure future sustainability and growth.
Going forward, the growth of 4G/long term evolution and subsequently, the need for 5G-based technologies, along with the growth in fibre to the home (FTTH)-based fixed broadband, and internet of things/machine-to-machine-based requirements will enhance the demand for service delivery and network expansions. This will lead to high capex investments from the existing players, which, in turn, will generate additional jobs in the coming two to three years time.
K.K. Sharma, Senior Telecom and ICT Professional and a former Chief Technology Officer
(The views expressed above are the personal views of the author and the names of companies/sectors are used without any specific purpose and are only indicative in nature.)