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Hot Jobs in a freezing economy 

 
 

Rapid fire 

AssureConsulting.com talks to Mahesh Koshi, Regional Head at www.naukri.com

   
Are there more employees than employers in today's job market? 
Yes 
 
If this is the case, what is the profile of the average job seeker?
Hard core techies/people one year exp.
 
Are tech companies not hiring at all? They have become more discerning/Right sizing and redeploying existing staff.
 
Has it become more difficult for job sites to add clients to their list of hiring companies?
Yes
 
What are the technologies that are in demand even in a sluggish recruitment market? Telecom, Embedded, VLSI, Chip Design, Verilog etc
 
If the software professionals needs to upgrade skills and retrain, what are the technologies they must opt for? Operating Systems, RDBMS, ASIC design etc

n August 2001, thestandard.com reported a total of 139,643 layoffs in 2001 in the US, spawning fear and insecurity among the once footloose techie community known to shift jobs even before the hat dropped. The initial outburst of exuberance to experiment with different jobs and work environments has ebbed, as Indian companies make pink slips and low increments a norm rather than an exception. The wait and watch attitude of Indian companies towards hiring accompanied by daily media feed of job cuts has radically changed the revolutionary mindset of a community in favour of stability and security, not long-back scoffed for being “middle-class.” According to a yet-to-be published IDC-Dataquest survey on IT's Best Employers, almost 100 per cent respondents are not motivated by stock options and a majority are looking for job security in the aftermath of the IT slowdown. But before hyperbolic fears get firmly entrenched in the collective psyche of the tech community, AssureConsulting.com sets right the score.

Reeling from the onslaught of the downturn, it is true that the tech sector is on a hiring diet but so far it has not turned anorexic. According to the ITAA, 450,000 jobs will go abegging in the US alone in 2001. For the first quarter 2001, Nasccom reported a 52 per cent growth in revenue compared to last year for IT companies. If Indian companies need to sustain this growth figure, they cannot freeze hiring altogether. Hence, regardless of the slowdown, there has been a steady demand for IT professionals but the demand comes attached with certain tags – three years + experience and the skill sets need to be current. With project cycles shortening “the quick learn and get placed era” has ended, as companies are on the look out for experienced professionals. Hence, for professionals on the wrong side of the experience or the skill set fence, the going is definitely tough. For instance, with the dotcom revolution having turned upon itself, the demand for VB, php professionals and internet applications is on the wane, but jobs still exist for experienced professionals who have worked in technologies which the industry deems hot. AssureConsulting.com brings you the prized list: 

Embedded/Telecom: A recent Meryll Lynch report estimates the size of embedded software market to be $10 billion by 2002. Apart from the semi-conductor industry, the area has been relatively immune to the slowdown, largely on account of the fact that these technologies are to do with every-day consumer goods being upgraded to newer technology and automation levels. As more and more intelligent devices make their way into our lives, the demand for embedded telecom will increase. In addition even in areas where telecom companies are in the grips of a slowdown, companies are not making cuts in introducing new features.  

The range is really very wide, limited only by human imagination," B J Ram Rao, CEO, eSmartNet (a division of Zicom Electronic Security Systems) admitted in a recent interview with Zeeindia. "I would think that, broadly, the embedded system application areas would be wireless, Internet and mobile communications, industrial control, test and measurement, networking, aerospace and automotive control, consumer electronics, digital imaging and defence." 

Hence the demand for engineers in Embedded Software remains buoyant. Scan the classifieds or take a look at Assure Job Bank to know the number of companies clamouring for embedded telecom professionals. 

Digital Signal Processing: The estimated growth figures for the DSP market ($19 billion by 2004) is enough to send the industry’s adrenaline pumping. The DSP players are unfazed by threats of a downturn. In fact, many experts are betting that with the PC industry facing a slowdown and wireless technologies yet to deliver, DSP could be the industry’s next big high. The theory behind DSP is quite complex. As the name suggests, DSP deals with the various techniques employed in processing digital signals. A DSP circuit is able to differentiate between human-made signals, which are orderly, and noise, which is inherently chaotic.

Digital signal processing dramatically improves the sensitivity of a receiving unit. If an incoming signal is analog, for example a standard television broadcast station, the signal is first converted to digital form by an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). The resulting digital signal has two or more levels. Ideally, these levels are always predictable, exact voltages or currents. However, because the incoming signal contains noise, the levels are not always at the standard values. The DSP circuit adjusts the levels to the correct values. This practically eliminates the noise. The digital signal is then converted back to analog form via a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). If a received signal is digital, for example computer data, then the ADC and DAC are not necessary. The DSP acts directly on the incoming signal, eliminating irregularities caused by noise, and thereby minimizing the number of errors per unit time.

With the demand for better speech recognition, convergence of voice and data and communications applications on the rise, the demand for DSP professionals, at present, shows no signs of abeyance. 

Hardware Design: A recent Merrill Lynch report on India IT services, places the revenues from core technology including revenues from high-end software development and hardware solutions for Indian software companies between $800 million and $1 billion in fiscal 2001 and $4 billion by 2005. Sure, the Indian IT players especially those operating in the embedded software, DSP and telecom industry have set their eyes clearly on the emerging hardware design services industry. Hardware design involves two components board and system level design and chip design. 

The demand for professionals involved in board-and system-level design has remained steady but with a large number of multinationals such as Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, National Semiconductor, Analog Devices, Philips and Motorola are finding their Indian design centers worth the challenge, and companies like Silicon Automation Systems, Arcus, Armedia, Wipro and SiCore, are emerging as global success stories in chip and IP design. The figures tell the story. Deemed to be a $14 billion market chip designing is a growing area 

Once again, Assure Job Bank to know that the demand for ASIC professionals has spiraled in recent months. Candidates skilled in Electronics, Digital Engineering, wide variety of design tools like Synopsys and languages like Verilog and VHDL are relatively immune to the slowdown.

Wireless Communications: The demand for anywhere, anytime devices and the availability of bandwidth will continue to fuel growth of mobile communications. With 2G, a reality and now companies setting their eyes at 3G, which will reach its maturity between 2000 and 2005, the area definitely needs techies if these plans are to fructify. Ultimately, 3G is expected to include capabilities and features such as: Enhanced multimedia (voice, data, video, and remote control), Usability on all popular modes (cellular telephone, e-mail, paging, fax, videoconferencing, and Web browsing), Broad bandwidth and high speed (upwards of 2 Mbps) Routing flexibility (repeater, satellite, LAN) Operation at approximately 2 GHz transmit and receive frequencies Roaming capability throughout Europe, Japan, and North America. 

Forget 3G. Recently Hughes Software Systems in India entered into a partnership with a Japanese company now to make fourth generation wireless technology. 

Likewise the demand for professionals who are well versed in any of the several wireless and signaling protocols and wireless mark-up languages remains high. 

Wireless giants, (although not in India) are also on the lookout for professionals who have worked in Bluetooth Technologies, an open standard for short-range transmission of digital voice and data that will connect any mobile devices (laptops, PDAs, phones) and desktop devices. 

Networking Experts: According to Dr Dobbs Journal, as companies continue to upgrade their infrastructures, the demand for networking experts is bound to grow. Networking specialists will be needed to help firms design administer and expand local and wide area networks including voice and data integration

As a corollary demand for networking security specialists is also bound to grow. Companies are adopting a proactive approach in securing internal and external networks to prevent security breaches. Those in the field should possess LAN/WAN management and systems administration ( Windows NT/2000, UNIX, LINUX) as well as background in VPNS, TCP/IP, intrusion, detection and firewall implementation. 

The demand for professionals in Network Management Software and Optical Networking is also growing. In India, despite the presence of multinationals like Cisco, optical networking is still in its infancy, but the market will boom as multinational giants outsource more projects to India to cut costs.

DataBases: DBA professionals with a background in Oracle, SQL and PL have not become outdated. Another dynamic area is relational database management system, a program that lets you create, update, and administer a relational database. An RDBMS takes Structured Query Language (SQL) statements entered by a user or contained in an application program and creates, updates, or provides access to the database. 

An area which makes use of Databases extensively, E-CRM is creating waves in the IT industry. According to IDC, the worldwide sales for CRM will increase from $61 billion in 2001 to $148 billion in 2005 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25 per cent. They also say that this exceeds the overall growth of market IT services market pegged at 12 per cent CAGR for 2000-20005. In India, the e-CRM market is currently estimated to be around $2 million and is expected to grow to $17 million by 2006, according to Nasscom.

Market research firm IDC divides CRM applications into three segments, sales automation software, marketing automation software and customer support /call center software. In 1999, the sales automation segment was the largest. However this year the customer support and call center segment will become the largest part of the market. Through 2004 market automation segment will be the fastest-growing segment of the market.

Application Software: Application software such as Java, VB and php for e-commerce professionals is down but the demand for application software professionals in telecom and embedded companies has not seen a slump. Software engineers well versed in programming languages such as VC++ and C++ with Unix background continue to be in demand. 

In the light of the downturn many software professionals may have to retrain and upgrade their skills sets. Job security will continue to figure high but for skilled, experienced professionals job satisfaction need not be sacrificed at the altar of stability! 
 

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