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BENGALURU : Demand for digital-savvy technology talent, especially in non-metro cities, is expected to accelerate in 2022 with the pandemic spurring continued demand for remote working and companies setting up smaller offices away from their headquarters.

Software-as-a-Service unicorn Zoho Corp plans to hire about 1,000 people for its rural offices in India this year. This will be in addition to the 3,000 people Zoho hired last year. The company has been focusing on bringing jobs to smaller towns since it opened its first rural office in 2011 in Tenkasi, a village in Tamil Nadu.

“Hiring in tier-II and -III cities and rural areas is much more than just tapping into a talent base in these regions. It is about nurturing talent that is industry-ready. We are able to make this a possibility with the help of programmes such as the Zoho School of Learning. We believe these regions are rich in latent talent, just waiting for opportunities to come their way," said M.I. Sohail, head of talent acquisition, Zoho.

Pune-based software services firm Tech Mahindra Ltd aims to double its talent base in digital technologies through fresh hiring from tier-II cities in addition to upskilling and hiring from its existing talent pool in India and overseas.

“We continue to focus on a skill-based hiring across emerging technologies including 5G, XDS, artificial intelligence, cloud, robotic process automation, blockchain, IoT, and cyber security. Additionally, we are hiring across all levels, especially at the bottom of the pyramid, to increase the tech quotient of the firm and keep our talent pool brimming with new-age technologies," said Harshvendra Soin, global chief people officer and head, marketing, Tech Mahindra.

IBM Corp also aims to expand its business in India by venturing into non-metro cities.

“In 2022, we will continue accelerating our business growth in India with expansion and hiring in cities beyond metros, building on our collaboration with leading educational institutes, investing in building the skilling agenda for our employees, and contributing to the country’s ‘Skill India’ and ‘Digital India’ missions," said Sandip Patel, managing director, IBM India.

Chennai-based human resource solutions firm Neeyamo doubled its headcount to 3,000 employees last year, of which 80% belong to non-metro cities such as Madurai, Thanjavur, Nagpur, Belgaum, and Aurangabad. Neeyamo is hiring across all its centres, especially in Madurai and Nagpur, and aims to establish remote development centres in 20 tier-II and tier-III cities across India.

“Surprisingly, young talent in tier-II -III cities is not lagging when it comes to using digital platforms/courses to stay relevant in today’s market. It is our mission to provide as many job opportunities as possible to the talent pool available in these untapped cities across India," said Rangarajan Seshadri, chief executive officer, Neeyamo.

With talent attraction and retention continuing to pose a challenge for companies, people with niche skills will be in a position to command much higher salaries.

“We believe the salaries of job seekers with niche skills will increase by 1.5 to 2 times in comparison with their peers," said Yeshab Giri, chief commercial officer, Staffing & Randstad Technologies, Randstad India.

“Big data engineers, cloud architects, DevOps engineers, blockchain engineers, IoT architects and cybersecurity specialists will be in great demand across levels of expertise."

Established IT companies will continue to widen their geographical footprint by moving beyond the metros.

“Companies will begin hiring freshers in non-metro cities through online platforms because of the recent revolution in campus recruitments. Colleges in tier-II and -III cities are now connecting graduates to a wide variety of companies through online guest lectures and interview programmes, thereby opening up avenues for companies to hire talent in remote regions," Giri said.

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