New Delhi: The Indian job market is expected to see slower hiring activity, but double-digit salary hikes next year as employers are embracing a "cautiously optimistic" approach amid the economic uncertainty.
    
Surviving overall global sluggishness replete with large-scale layoffs in different sectors, the domestic employment scenario has gathered some steam toward the end of 2011, as reflected in the relatively better hiring plans of companies.
    
The experts, as well as different surveys, are projecting a slower pace of hiring activities in the country in the New Year, but said India would still fare better than its global peers.
    
However, apprehensions are high that the economic slowdown and  declining industrial output could seriously affect the hiring plans of corporates, experts said.
    
"Although there will be a variation in employment generation outlook across sectors, new jobs will continue to be added, but at a slower pace," global HR consultancy Ma Foi Randstad MD and CEO E Balaji said.
    
"The global economic uncertainty has impacted the Indian market, inspite of the positive sentiments displayed at the beginning of 2011," he noted.
    
In the coming months, recruitment is expected to grow in sectors such as retail, healthcare and IT & ITeS, defence, hospitality, consumer durable and nuclear energy.
    
Global human resources major Hay Group's India Managing Director, Gaurav Lahiri, believes that India, to some extent, is insulated from layoffs happening in the developed world.
    
"The Indian employment market is cautiously optimistic," Lahiri said.

As per Hay Group, India may see low double-digit salary hikes of as much as 12 percent across various levels in 2012.

This would be slightly better than the average pay increase of about 11 percent in 2011.
    
However, HR experts tracking various sectors feel there will be a slowdown in recruitment activity in the coming months.
    
Though most companies are unlikely to trim their headcount, as has been the case in many other countries, new hiring could be put on hold, at least in some segments.
    
Staffing solutions company TeamLease Services' Senior Vice-President and Co-Founder Sangeeta Lala said that new job creation over the last six months has declined by 15 percent from the year-ago levels, mainly in sales and customer services.
    
The uncertain economic environment and a perceived policy paralysis have also dampened the consumer sentiment and are affecting new job offers.
    
The sectors where new job creation has been adversely affected include FMCG, sales, customer service operations, insurance and telecom.
    
Ma Foi Randstad said in a report in October that there was a shortfall of 2,29,500 jobs, as against the prediction of 1.6 million made at the beginning of 2011.
    
However, experts believe that the healthy growth rate of the Indian economy at 7-8 percent presents "hope" for the domestic job market.
    
"... Today companies are more serious about getting the right talent... many are looking for lesser number but more impactful people," Lahiri said.
    
The Indian hiring landscape, however, has a serious drawback -- talent shortage -- as a significant number of people are either "unemployable" or inadequately skilled, largely due to the mismatch between the requirements of the industry and the education provided in colleges and management schools.
    
Experts believe organisations should ensure adequate in-house training or a tie-up with academic institutions to train their existing staff to fill the gap.
    
"Businesses should espouse a long-term approach to ensure they have the talent that is required to achieve their targets by ensuring adequate in-house training or tie-up with academic institutions to either train staff across levels," Balaji said.

(Agencies)