New Delhi: Mid-size and smaller technology companies are pushing back their on-campus recruitment by up to six months as business uncertainty in the US—their single-largest market—makes workforce needs and projections difficult. And, those facing the brunt are colleges in smaller towns and cities.
Both colleges and headhunters report that hiring for the batch to graduate in 2009 may take place as late as December or January instead of the March-May period favoured by tech companies.
“Eventually, we are moving to just-in-time hiring,” said Indrajit Sen, assistant vice-president for talent acquisition at software company Aricent Inc., which hired nearly 800 through campus recruitments last year. “The trends are visible, but they are not very sharp right now.”
Still, the decision not to book talent early is significant because it could be an early indicator of an overall hiring slowdown.
“The 2009 hiring has been impacted. There is a wait-and-watch in place,” said Rishi Das, chief executive of CareerNet Consulting, a firm which helps 50 technology firms with on-campus hiring from 400 colleges. “The biggest impact will be on tier III colleges”.
Colleges, even those in tier II towns, are already concerned. Neelam Saxena, faculty member in charge of placements at Manav Rachna College of Engineering in Faridabad, outside the capital, said she is having a tough time wooing companies.
“Companies have stopped coming. Six have come as compared with 12 last year,” said Saxena, who is exploring all avenues to place a batch of 255 engineering graduates, only half of whom will be allowed to sit for placements. “We have also sent students out to job fairs in other cities,” she said.
Officials with top technology vendors, such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Wipro Ltd, told Mint it is business as usual when it comes to on-campus recruitment. They did concede that they will wait to see how joining salaries, which have gone up steadily, pan out.
The number of information technology and IT-enabled services professionals employed in India grew from less than 200,000 in 1998 to more than 1.6 million in 2007, largely because of the country’s demographic profile and network of high-quality academic institutions, says a report from trade body Nasscom.
India currently produces around 495,000 technical graduates.
“Joining will be staggered, but it is always like that,” said Pradeep Bahirwani, vice-president for talent acquisition at Wipro, which hired 11,000 students in 2007-08. Of these, 3,000 joined in the last quarter. “A lot of our business is repeat business so it is predictable.”
Experts say the slower hiring this year is a consequence of last year’s experience when many tech companies, hit by the weak dollar, had to delay joining of students they had picked in advance.
“These companies will go cherry picking now,” said E. Balaji, chief executive of Ma Foi Management Consultants, a headhunting firm.
The tech firms which participated in a recent summit on human resource development organized by Nasscom, said there was a discussion on reducing the on-campus hiring cycle because it is difficult to predict business 12-18 months in advance.
Elite institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, for instance, only allow in companies for recruitment in the final semester of an eight-semester programme. But other colleges, especially those who draw their profile from their placements, encourage a larger cycle so large number of students commit to their employers early.