India's nationalised banks seem set for a major recruitment drive once again to meet growth needs and fresh vacancies that will arise when a large number of employees retire in the next three-four years
Public and private sector banks in India are expected to hire over 45,000-50,000 people this year alone as probationary officers (POs) as well as clerks. While Indian banks today employ over 7.25 lakh persons, the new recruitment drive is taking place due to three factors—staff needs arising out of growth and expansion, preparing for the large number of bank employees who are expected to retire in the coming three-four years and mitigating staff shortage caused by the belt-tightening over the past two years.
“Recruiting more people has now become a 'compulsion' for public sector banks (PSBs) as most of the employees working there had joined after 1970 and are near their retirement," CH Venkatachalam, general secretary, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and convener for the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) told Moneylife. Another top union leader told us that a large number of employees will be retiring in the next three years.
Leading the recruitment in 2010 is the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI), which plans to hire around 4,500 officers and about 25,000 clerks, while its associate banks would hire another 1,700 officers. Bank of Baroda, the country's third largest State-run lender, is planning to recruit about 3,500 employees that would include around 1,800 to 2,000 officers.
"With most banks entering diversified business segments, they need to recruit people and train them properly, as there are many changes taking place in the banking domain. Earlier, banks used to recruit people as clerks without any proper training in banking. But now they will have to change their hiring process as required," Mr Venkatachalam said.
With a number of employees retiring over the next few years, there would be a dearth of knowledgeable people in the banking system. The freeze on recruitment in the past years has also caused PSBs to face a real drought in talent. This is true for junior level employees and also top management.
"Chairmen and managing directors of some PSBs are going to retire over the next few months. However, there still is no plan for their succession. The case is similar with senior management. Earlier, an assistant general manager would automatically become general manager when the post fell vacant. But this is no longer the case at most banks," the union leader said. The vacancies are not filled immediately and the workload is often redistributed among existing employees.
Besides regular bank jobs, banks are also planning to start a new chapter in banking services with the recruitment of business correspondents (BCs), mainly in rural areas. SBI alone is planning to hire 15,000 BCs during FY11. SBI’s plans are in tune with the Budget decision to provide banking facilities in all domiciles with more than 2,000 people.
However, unions are against the new banking model. "Using BCs as a front, private corporates and entities may enter PSBs and can misuse the banking system. Therefore, we are opposing the idea to hire BCs, as banks themselves can go to the last mile and provide banking services," Mr Venkatachalam said.
"Bank unions would protest the move and launch an agitation, if needed," the union leader added.