While Accenture fires thousands, it is also hiring thousands

29 October 2020 Consultancy.in 4 min. read
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It may sound a bit odd, but while Accenture is in the process of sacking 25,000 professionals globally, the firm is also on a hiring frenzy. More than 3,000 new vacancies have been advertised in India alone.

News broke in August that Accenture planned to lay off 5% of its global workforce. The reason: Covid-19 related fallout of demand. Indeed, Accenture’s February growth rate of 8% fell to 1% in the immediate wake of the pandemic, and scaling back on costs was seen as a must.

In India, Accenture’s workforce is a vast pool of mostly IT development and outsourcing professionals, and alone accounts for more than 200,000 of its 500,000-strong global headcount. The largest Accenture outfit in the world: The India team also bore the brunt of job cuts as a result, with the 5% sweep accounting for 10,000 Indian jobs.

The layoffs were announced in August. Come October, Accenture now has over 3,300 open vacancies in India. An explanation for these seemingly contradictory developments can be found in Accenture CEO Julie Sweet’s comments from August, which hinted at a two-pronged strategy.

While Accenture fires thousands, it is also hiring thousands

One was to save costs, which explains the job cuts. Sweet noted that 5% of Accenture’s lowest performing ranks are cut every year. These vacancies are usually filled with new talent, but would be left open this year due to low demand.

The second strategy was that Accenture would refocus its resources on in-demand and high impact areas. This explains the skills being sought in the 3,000 plus new recruits.

Building capacity with speed

More than 400 of the open roles in India are for core tech skills such as data analytics, cloud, infrastructure and network security – all of which were already in focus before the pandemic hit, but have well and truly taken centre stage under the ‘new normal’. Whether companies are looking to cut costs, increase efficiency, minimise risk, or alternate between virtual and office-based working, solutions can be found in core tech capabilities.

The demand for these services is expected to skyrocket amid business continuity efforts. Evidence of a demand boom can be found in Accenture’s latest company report, which records the second highest new bookings in the last quarter. The opportunity is now, and there is no time to invest in upskilling the current workforce. Capacity needs to be built immediately, and Accenture looks willing to invest in speed.

A large portion of the 3,000 advertised vacancies – including 200 project managers – require a high experience level, which usually corresponds with annual pay of up to Rs. 1.5 million at the very least. Keeping the wheels turning, meanwhile, will be a host of new human resources, accounting and finance professionals.

The significant cost undertaking demonstrates Accenture’s commitment to high impact investments –  evident from other activity as well. Accenture was already a serial acquirer before the pandemic, and this has not changed this year.

Reports suggest that the firm has made at least 15 acquisitions across the world since April this year, the majority of which are in the advanced technology space. Add to this a $3 billion investment Accenture has earmarked for a new global Cloud First practice – launched last month.

Meanwhile, back in August, reports suggested that Accenture had also asked parts of its global workforce to enhance their skill profile so as to avoid being caught in a potential second wave of redundancies.

All these actions add up to clarify a singular standpoint: In a struggling economy, Accenture is looking to build a more lean and efficient workforce equipped with the skills and capacity to compete in a post pandemic world.