The curious case of the clerks who disappeared from the bank workforce

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With technology taking over mundane tasks, such as moving files, and customers’ growing preference for online transactions instead of visiting branches, banks have gradually reduced recruitment for office positions.

The share of clerical jobs in India’s banking system has declined over the past few years, from peaks of over 50% in the early 1990s to 22% as of FY21, the latest data showed. employment in segregated banks released by the Reserve Bank of India last week.

People in clerical positions usually work as cashiers, cashiers, and assistants to officers, in addition to preparing documents. The main difference between the role of a clerk and that of an officer is the latter’s ability to sanction loans and advances.

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Experts said the rapid march of technology has led to less reliance on office roles, and the change in the way people do their banking has also contributed to the trend, as long lines of Waiting at branches, at least in urban areas, has diminished with the advent of mobile phones. and cheap data plans.

“Technology has played a major role in changing the distribution of labor in banks and even in public sector banks. The change is visible. That and the automation, I think, has made desk roles not as central to banking as they once were,” said Veinu Nehru Dutta, Managing Partner, FyneHand Consultants. Nowadays, you don’t need to move too many files or have a lot of paperwork. as much of it has been automated. Third-party vendors have taken over some of these roles, Dutta added.

“The bank branches used to have a lot of people, but that has changed now. You don’t need as many staff in such roles when most people are using online transactions,” she said.

A committee set up to examine human resource issues in state-owned banks said in a 2010 report that banks needed to address the continued requirement for office jobs in a post-CBS environment. base). Banks need to seriously deliberate on future office staffing needs, and office strength cannot be determined based on one-on-one replacement, said panel led by former chairman Anil K. Khandelwal and Managing Director of the Bank of Baroda. said.

The report highlighted the fact that banks recruit office staff on a simplistic calculation of factors such as retirement, branch expansion and increased business. This creates a long-term financial burden and will affect productivity, he added.

“Clerical positions have declined as digitization has made many such jobs redundant. There have also been a lot of changes in the focus areas of banks which have impacted on these jobs,” said Aditya Narayan Mishra, Managing Director of Ciel HR Services.

Banking unions oppose the sidelining of clerks and want to take steps to make these roles more relevant. They plan to push to improve the powers of frontline clerical staff in the bipartisan settlement between the union and the Association of Indian Banks (IBA).

“They are cheaper and a useful resource, as all banks aim for a better cost-income ratio. Why hire more officers with a salary of 70,000 when banks could hire more clerks at wages starting at 30,000?” said CH Venkatachalam, secretary general of the Indian Association of Bank Clerks.

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