Bangalore: Faced with the challenge of finding workers with specialist skills and high levels of attrition, technology firms such as Microsoft Corp.’s India unit and local software company Infosys Technologies Ltd have started what they call efforts at “incubating talent” on an experimental basis.
Right move: Microsoft GTSC’s Sashi Kumar says attracting suitable talent with a product and engineering mindset is a big challenge.
Microsoft Global Technical Support Center (GTSC) has allowed about 65 engineering students — studying in their seventh and eighth semesters at local engineering colleges — to carry out projects on weekends at its Bangalore facility for a year, during which they will be mentored and trained before working on projects.
“Attracting suitable talent with a product and engineering mindset is a big challenge,” said Sashi Kumar, general manager, Microsoft GTSC.
The company, which mainly used to hire experienced hands from other technology firms, has started recruiting from campuses in recent years. Still, not assured of sizeable numbers, Microsoft thought about incubating talent as a new way of finding workers with the right skills.
“The incubation programme is a good way to build exposure, depth of thinking and instill engineering bent of mind,” Kumar said.
People participating in the programme are not tied to a Microsoft job and can leave for another job at the end of the incubation programme, he said and added that once formalized, the programme will be replicated at other Microsoft support centres.
India’s second largest software services firm Infosys has also started a pilot project where about 250 final-year engineering students are going through a programme to understand technology.
The engineering students have been chosen from colleges that allow them to go out for final-year projects that run for three-four months, said Srikantan Moorthy, vice-president and head of education and research at Infosys.
Microsoft aims to bring down the training duration for new recruits by as much as half through this programme, said K. Srikanthan, a group manager with the firm. Campus recruits go through 8-10 months of training at Microsoft GTSC. He said the present batch of 65 students was selected from 4,500 candidates from 30 colleges in and around Bangalore.
Started with 40 people in 2003, Microsoft GTSC in Bangalore is now the largest support site for the software giant and employs some 1,200 engineers, who help customers install and run the company’s software in the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and more recently in India. The company has some 1,000 contracted workers at vendors, including Wipro Ltd, handling high volume and less complex support services.
Live projects help students understand technology better and at the same time reduce training costs for firms, said Nirupama V.G., managing director, Ad Astra Consultants Pvt. Ltd, a Bangalore-based HR consultancy firm. “For companies such as Microsoft, it’s a good way to evangelize their products,” she added.
Students see such talent incubation programmes as a means to understand technologies first-hand in the long term. “For solving problems, one needs knowledge and training at (the Microsoft support centre) helps to gain knowledge,” said Sneh, a final semester student at Bangalore’s BMS College of Engineering, who gave only his first name.
K. Raghu contributed to this story.