Saturday, October 01, 2005

India Inc: Employment everywhere!

When it comes to the question of whether India is developing or not, I have absolutely no second thoughts about it. Just looking at the job market for freshers would give a very good indication of the times we are in.

One of the technology companies in Chennai was considered a premium when I was in the second year of the college. Barely 5 people made it every year, and most of them were Computer Science engineers. Things took a complete volte-face when I hit the final year, when the same company took 49 students from our college alone - and 14 from my own class (Electronics dept.). The company was great, the placements were unprecendented, and we were all happy. Looking at the current trend, all's going very well. The company recruits 50+ repeatedly every year.

But then, there is also a different side to look at.

First: Every kid who takes the XII exam gets an Engineering seat. Well, almost. I really don't think getting 60% in the higher secondary exam is a big deal. You should have a killer combo of being dumb AND putting zero effort to fail in these exams. Despite having 20,000 vacant seats in TN alone, the intake shows no sign of slowing down. That explains the quality of students in the lower rung Engineering colleges.

Second: The only reason why we attract so many MNCs is because of the Engish skills and the quality of the Engineering students who pass out every year. The applicants : intake ratio was tough and that ensured quality work force. Things have really changed now, and I'm now wondering if everything (the excessive hype over IT) is for good.

Companies are recruiting like crazy, and if employment fairs are any indication, the applicants : intake has fallen down drastically. For example, my superiors in Oracle used to boast that the applicant : intake is almost 300:1, but even during my last days of employment there, it fell down drastically. Or atleast, that was the sentiment. That's good news and bad news. Are companies really taking in quality work force? Even if the answer is yes, the attrition is so high that 'quality' people almost always get multiple offers and keep scooting between companies.

Third: Almost every bright student from the top Engineering colleges (barring those who go to MS, MBA etc) opts for an IT and ITES career. There is a huge 'talent gap' in other disciplines - be it Mechanical, Electrical, Civil Engineering etc. In other words, if, after sometime - say 20 years, the IT boom evens out and all disciplines are back in equal demand, there would be a serious lack of technically sound people in other disciplines. A matter of concern?

Although I've taken several assumptions, the simulaneous existence of all the three things above sounds grave. I just hope that the pace and the hype doesn't get out of the hand and IT industry doesn't tread in the direction of BPO industry where the world continously doubts if we are really competitive enough. For the moment though, let's be optimistic and relish the change.


At Saturday, October 01, 2005 4:27:00 PM, Blogger pm said...

Are companies really taking quality workforce? I do not think so. Do they need to take quality workforce for all the jobs that need to be done? I don't think so, either.

Going by my experiences with placements in IITM last year and observations for a couple of years more, most people in Computer S&E as well as people in Electrical Engg. (misnomer when it comes to IITS. this term encompasses electrical, electronics and communication engineers) who do not go for Phd or MBA go for jobs in their respective branches.

Rather than a 'talent gap', I see a demand supply mismatch in the other engineering fields. These things have a way of quickly evening out. Remember that 6 years ago CSE was the most sought branch while ECE is, now?

At Sunday, October 02, 2005 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Queasy Rider said...

Your concerns are valid, but Manoj provided the perfect explanation - do companies really need the level of quality you talk about, in entry level professionals? IT jobs are becoming increasingly commonplace and general programming skills even more so. This, taken together with the growth targets of companies leaves them with no choice. When you have to recruit by hundreds, you cannot retain the same stringest standards - and you need not, because the filter criteria (60% etc) ensures fairly good quality that gets the job done.
- NK

At Wednesday, October 05, 2005 2:00:00 AM, Blogger Govar said...

@Manoj and NK: You have a point. Altho technical skills arent always needed, I've personally seen people strullging really bad while interacting with folks outside - communicatiion skills are bad too. But companies dont have a choice. My feeling was that all this might give a bad impression abt the quality of work force and it *mmight* damage our USP.

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