As the IT sector finds itself in the thick of one of its toughest patches ever, campuses across the country, where placements are slated to begin a few months down the line, are on tenterhooks.
Campus sources that ET spoke to at over a dozen institutes said while top engineering colleges and B-schools which attract better quality jobs may be more insulated, it is the institutes lower down the rung where bulk hiring by IT services companies happen, that are likely to be hit hard, more so with companies stepping up fresher hiring in the US.
“One thing has emerged very clearly: Jobs in the lower end of the value chain will not be outsourced. More skill-oriented ones will be outsourced, which in effect will mean only colleges with a better name, better teaching pedagogy and better knowledge capital can survive,” says Pinaki Dasgupta, dean-placement and corporate relations at International Management Institute.
Placement heads across colleges said they are keenly tracking developments on layoffs, visa issues, etc, and ensuring students are kept in the loop. Susanta Pramanik, head, training and placement at NIT Durgapur, where the IT sector absorbs as much as 70% of the students getting placed, said while none of the big companies has sent out any negative signals so far, students going into their final year are nonetheless worried by the events unfolding around them. “We are encouraging more students to go for higher studies,” said Pramanik.
While most big IT players are yet to spell out campus hiring plans, the negativity in the environment has affected morale. Thousands of IT employees in India have been losing jobs. As reported in ET earlier, Cognizant has fired over 6,000 as part of its annual appraisal process, Infosys is letting go of more than 1,000 and Wipro, at least 600. Compounding this is the fact that the US regime’s protectionist policies are leading to outsourcing giants hiring more freshers in the US.
That is expected to hit campus hiring in India — particularly in tier-2, tier-3 campuses where IT is among the most prominent recruiters.
Some small IT companies — who campuses declined to name — have pulled back on offers made to the batch of 2017 at some of the smaller institutes, claiming that projects have not taken off. None of the bigger players have retracted any offers yet — but hiring numbers may take a beating for the upcoming placements, feel institutes.
“We take a multifaceted approach toward hiring. We hire talent from colleges and train them on new and emerging technologies, train existing talent on new technologies to fulfil demand and also hire senior level laterals from the market. We will honour the offers that have been made and will continue to hire from campuses. We do not provide hiring guidance,” said Wipro in an email response to ET.
An Infosys spokesperson too said it was too early to comment on the hiring numbers for the year ahead. “We have extended over 20,000 offers on campus for this year. As always, on-boarding of these graduating batches will be driven by business needs,” said the spokesperson, adding that they will continue to hire people from the campuses with high learnability and excellent orientation to technology.
IT image hit
Things have been worsening for some time now. An earlier ET article (January 27) had highlighted how IT companies had slashed hiring during placements for the batch of 2017 due to factors such as Trump’s protectionist stance, muted growth numbers and increasing automation. IT recruitments had slumped 20-40% in several tier-II — and even some tier-I — management schools with Infosys, Wipro and Dell among those who had pared down hiring numbers.
The perception of IT services as a massive creator of jobs will take a hit during short term as hiring slows down tremendously at the bottom of pyramid (BOP), feels Thammaiah BN, managing director, Kelly Services India.
“BOP hiring happens almost entirely in campuses and this what shapes the perception of the IT sector,” he says. “It’s time technical campuses listen to the clarion call and look at a total and holistic development of a student — with good communication skills aided by critical/cognitive thinking ability — and hence thinking beyond just technical ability,” said Dr Yaj Medury, vice-chancellor of the Bennett University.
“The preference for an IT career in the minds of students takes a beating under such circumstances,” says G Balasubramanian, chief placement officer at BITS Pilani. He says their campuses are more insulated since most of the IT services companies hiring in bulk do not hire from them.
Good graduates will not really face a problem, but there is nonetheless a bit of concern, says NP Padhy, professor-in-charge of placements at IIT Roorkee. “Individual companies will recruit in lower numbers and that compounded with the fact that startups are hiring less will pose a problem. The job market is quite challenging,” signed off Padhy.