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India’s ICICI, the country’s largest private sector financial services group, said it expects to hire up to 40,000 people a year for the next three to five years to service expected growth in the country’s burgeoning banking and insurance sectors.

The recruitment drive by ICICI, which currently employs about 150,000 staff, is part of efforts by India’s financial groups to step up their retail banking services and to prepare for expected liberalisation of the insurance industry.

“We as…a single group will hire about 40,000 people a year. I see it continuing for the next three to five years,” said KV Kamath, managing director of ICICI Bank, in an interview with the Financial Times.

Indian industry is suffering from an acute shortage of skilled manpower as breakneck growth across a range of sectors, from finance and manufacturing to the IT and business process outsourcing industries, soaks up available talent.

India’s banking industry has reported double-digit revenue growth over the past few years on the back of a booming consumer finance sector, with a newly affluent middle class buying homes, cars and appliances.

Rajendra Pawar, the head of NIIT, an IT training company that is setting up a financial services training institute with ICICI, said the banking sector alone is expected to recruit a further 600,000 people on top of its existing workforce of 900,000 over the next five years.

“It is not a matter of having a few hundred more people, it is a matter of hundreds of thousands,” said Mr Pawar, whose new company, the Institute of Finance, Banking and Insurance Training, hopes to open 75 schools across the country over the next five years.

Mr Kamath predicted that the country’s emerging insurance sector, and what he called “other financial services”, such as mutual funds and the securities industry, would also require about 600,000 recruits each over the next five years to service growth.

Mr Kamath said the consumer credit industry started growing at 40-50 per cent in 2000 and had been growing at that rate for four to five years.

“Today it’s probably growing at 35-40 per cent. That’s what is underpinning the economic activity,” Mr Kamath said.

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