Wipro Ltd, India’s third-largest software services firm, will go hiring in rural India as a means to stem worker attrition rates that range between 15% and 40% among Indian outsourced tech and back-office service companies. Rising attrition has been putting pressure on profitability margins of such businesses.
Company chairman Azim Premji said Wipro will kick off a pilot hiring programme in Madhya Pradesh with at least 100 graduate students. They will be put through a training programme for three to six months at a finishing school before being put on a software or call centre job, Premji told reporters.
“These students are likely to make far more loyal and committed employees than those that we find in urban centres, simply because no one ever thought of giving them a chance at employment,” said Premji, a businessman with philanthropic interests in primary education in the country.
At the finishing school, students will brush up their English language skills and get acclimatized to working in global work places. The months at the finishing school will give the students the confidence to handle job interviews, Premji said.
“We have to continuously look at unconventional methods of increasing our net recruitment and by deepening our reach into rural colleges, we hope to increase our supply base,” the billionaire businessman, among the country’s richest, said.
Indian tech companies are under pressure with a workforce that talks with its feet,0 pushing up wage costs 15-25% annually.
Wipro currently has 63,000 employees but with five new development centres at various stages of completion around the country, the need to increase workforce significantly is a priority. “We have been growing ahead of the industry’s 30% growth and we need to increase headcount every year to keep pace,” Premji said.
The Wipro chairman said the Madhya Pradesh model will be extended to other company centres, including Maharashtra, where there are smaller colleges not very far from Wipro’s Pune campus.
Wipro also has other on-going programmes with universities and colleges to increase its headcount.
For instance, four of its campuses have a ‘learn-and-earn’ programme for young science students who are recruited by the company as trainees and they are put through a four-year graduation programme by faculty from the Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, and are stationed at the company campus.
“They are earning through the entire period at the end of which they have a Master’s degree in software engineering,” says Premji.
Wipro expects 4,000 such students in Pune this year. The company inaugurated a Rs400 crore development centre in Pune, its second in the city, and said the new facility will increase its workforce to17,000.
The centre, which currently caters to clients from banking, securities and capital markets, will add three competency offices for hedge funds services and operations, embedded systems, and mainframe technologies, Wipro said.