Contractual Jobs in Pakistan’s Telecoms

contractThe overall model of recruitment in telecommunications has changed over the past few years. This trend is now finding its way in Pakistan’s market as well. It was customary till 2007 that more or less all resources taken on board were on company’s permanent payroll. This called for higher benefits and lucrative remuneration packages.

Mobile operators in Pakistan once hired on permanent basis blindly, but since 2008, starting from Mobilink, it has been noted that the trend of contractual hiring has flown to other operators at ever increasing rate. Even if the contractual-heads are told not to waver about the hiring nature of their designations and their contracts are easily extended, company still goes on to save more than 700 USD per employee.

In this context, Ericsson Pakistan’s ex NSS manager South once shared his views by saying that the outsourced contractual model in telecommunications, well established globally, will take a good amount of time before it settles well here in Pakistan. Because Pakistan’s telecom industry once saw relentless flow of money towards every department and every employee, it is difficult for employees to have their next job as a contractual one.

Biggest fear, a contractual head has to encounter, is the level of job security. In contractual appointment letters it is often vividly mentioned that the employer may terminate this contract without being liable to offer a reason.

Usually contract-heads have to serve a notice period on resignation that’s lesser than a permanent head-count thus paving way for a quicker release. The magnitude of job insecurity varies very easily with the attitude of employer towards the hired resource.

Good vendors do not layoff their resources that easily even when there’s no running project for 5-6 months; good managers advocate about keeping their sub-ordinates on board in front of the higher management. Others fire off employees even when the project is running. There’s no rule of thumb here.

A fellow telecom engineer working on a 3rd party contract with Huawei, Saudi Arabia on Zain project shared his insight that because of the smaller radio network resource unit on this project, Huawei may go against the popular practice and actually in-source this resource, that is, absorb them into the company but maintaining their contractual status at all costs.

A telecom vendor in Pakistan with a small fraction of work in the country is saving at least 500 USD per employee by outsourcing its HR department, since the vendor is multinational and therefore has high standards of salary packages and other benefits for new hires. Thus when it allows new hires to be taken on contractual roles, the offers made are lower on scale.

Not only has the field of human resource management seen outsourcing but different departments of expertise – from marketing to field level operations, from sales to PR are also taking on board resources which have contractual terms.

When service providers outsource a unit of their network to the relevant organization, the organization goes on to take pertinent resources on board for a term equal to the length of outsourced project. This has, in a way, turned the telecom industry in a local village. The hierarchal chain is no doubt stretched but multiple connections are in turn generated.

Contractual model has helped businesses (sub cons) establish further, in a way for firms to grow, creating opportunities. Vendors outsource to these sub-contractual companies at more reduced rates. Prime example is: Ufone outsources its unit to Huawei and Huawei further rolls it out to LCC. Vendor swap projects see BSS deployment, drive testing engineers hired on contractual basis. Such engineering is known to work at salaries as low as PKR 15,000 per month.