India Budget 2015: Government should focus on entire HR ecosystem, says Utkarsh Joshi, The HR Fund

The Budget should focus on the entire human resource ecosystem as the HR solution industry will boom with positive measures, says Utkarsh Joshi, Principal, The HR Fund. The HR Fund is India’s first HR-focused private investment company with an objective and vision to transform the HR entrepreneurship in India to a more organised and institutionalised industry. With a
network spread across India, Singapore, and the United States, the company is a growth investor with functional expertise combining HR, technology, and finance.

Investors in the fund include some well-known and veteran HR sector specialists, CXOs, and entrepreneurs including Dr. Santrupt Misra, CEO, Carbon Black Business and Director, Group Human Resources of the Aditya Birla Group; NS Rajan, Member, Group Executive Council and Group Chief Human Resources Officer at TATA Sons; Dr. Arvind Agrawal, President, Corporate Development and Group HR in the RPG Group; Pratik Kumar, President of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering and Member of Wipro’s Corporate Executive Council; and Govind Iyer, Managing Director, Egon Zehnder India, besides leading the private equity practice. The existing investee companies of the fund are PeopleStrong HR Services Pvt. Ltd. (a growing HR outsourcing company) and People Matters (HR media company).While the fund’s board contributes to the strategic and networking inputs, Utkarsh Joshi, Principal at the fund is primarily responsible for fundraising, investment strategy, operations, and governance activities.

Utkarsh Joshi picture

In an interview with Jayashankar Menon, Joshi speaks about the Budget expectations. Excerpts:

JM: Do you think the India growth story will strengthen further?

UJ: The positive sentiments of growth and development and change in job outlook has been charting at the top ever since the unprecedented mandate to the Narender Modi Government in the parliamentary elections of 2014. The business friendly measures and ease of working has percolated to the job market with positive and increased hiring estimates across the industries. Whether it is the ‘make in India campaign’, focus on skills development of youth, reducing inflation numbers, or buzz around rate cuts by the RBI, India growth story is here to strengthen further.

JM: To complement the increasing potentials how do we improve the delivery?

UJ: In order to complement the rising potentials, it is important to improve the delivery. India needs not only skilled manpower to drive the growth but also competent and committed business managers and leaders including the top management in every sector with domain knowledge and expertise to leverage available channels of stakeholder management and bring ways to harness the power of technology to facilitate business goals. Development of human resources and knowledge capital is the key while budgeting for growth. Human resources are required to engage in continuous research and development and also monitor the quality and infrastructure, thereby increasing the productivity vis-à-vis investments.

JM: If India is to achieve the target of becoming $20 trillion economy from the current $2 trillion, how important it is for the country to have right human resources at right place and the right time frame?

UJ: Though India is a $2 trillion economy, according to a recent report by United Nations, approximately 30 crore Indians still live in extreme poverty. Modi calls for a top speed reform to make India a $ 20 trillion economy. India’s GDP growth target for 2014-15 is 7.5%. The International Monetary Fund says India will grow at 7.6% and surpass China. The economic survey 2012-13 found the total employment in the country grew by just 1.6% per year from 1999-2000 to 2009-10 in spite of growth boom. It cannot be debated that for sustainable growth fundamentals, it is important to have right human resources at right place and at the right time frame.

JM: What is HR Fund’s expectation on the forthcoming Budget?

UJ: At The HR Fund, we expect the budget to have a positive effect on the human resource solution (HR) industry, which manages not only the matchmaking of talent with jobs available but also has started contributing significantly towards the entire talent management processes with innovative technology in a compliant and secure environment. The industry works hand in hand with the companies and provides customised solution to boost growth and increase quality of life at workplace. This goes without saying that the various HR functions increases the employees’ experience, motivation, and productivity, besides saving key time and money resources for the company.

The Budget is expected to be pro-business and should lead to an upswing in hiring across multiple industry sectors. This would strengthen the already positive hiring sentiments across industries as several estimates and job outlook reports suggest a strong increase in hiring over last year.

JM: Do you think the manufacturing sector will gain traction, while the demand for manpower to achieve competitive advantages?

UJ: With the Government’s ‘Make in India’ drive, the manufacturing sector is estimated to see a strong demand for manpower to achieve competitive advantages. Other sectors like BFSI, aviation, retail, e-commerce, and IT/ITES should also see introduction/extension of business friendly policies leading to increased hiring. Increased hiring will translate into increased demand for talent acquisition and talent management products and services in India. The recruitment pass-through revenue will go up and the increase in employee numbers will push up expenditure for human resource management services (HRMS). Additionally, besides increase in HR outsourcing, products and services for management/retention of the best talent would be adopted among other things, leading to robust growth of the HR industry.

JM: Do you think the announcements around skill development and labour norms are likely to happen during the Budget?

UJ: Announcements around skill development and labour norms are expected as well. Apart from strengthening the workforce, positive measures in these areas would further open up the industry with an increased number of players in skilling and compliance sub–domains. This environment would help start-ups in HR segment flourish with niche product and service lines and would require to remain competitive with a structured growth plan including timely expansion, investments, and research and development, among other business measures.

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