Ankur Vyas, who completed his MBA in banking and finance from the National Institute of Bank Management, Pune, was expecting to join a leading credit rating agency as a research analyst in April. The pandemic, however, delayed his induction indefinitely. But instead of waiting, Vyas joined online courses in finance, which he says would help him learn on the job faster.
As final-year exams have been delayed at colleges and companies postpone recruiting interns and fresh hires, students have shifted their focus from jobs to upskilling.
Out of the 1 million students of the 2020 batch of B.Tech and MBA students in India, around 700,000 will be looking for placements this financial year. FirstNaukri.com, a campus hiring platform, said it had posted 34,000 fresher jobs in January-March, but the number is down by two-thirds post-lockdown.
For instance, in June, Accor Hotels cancelled campus offers. It said as markets open up gradually, every hotelier will first secure the jobs of existing employees before hiring freshers.
Some companies and institutes are engaging youngsters to make students job-ready.
Wipro Ltd is planning to on-board campus recruits from August to September in batches, and has opened its online programmes to its campus recruits to help them pick up required technical skills while they are at home.
Similarly, Tata Consultancy Services, is providing fresher training programmes. “Our India fresher recruits (40,000) are undergoing Xplore; our engagement and coaching has significantly intensified; many have completed the foundation curriculum and are acquiring advanced digital certifications that we have made available to them," said TCS in an emailed response.
IT companies are expecting to on-board students later this year in a staggered manner considering that the final-year students are expected to appear for their exams after September.
Many management students have also taken up internships without stipend, to upskill themselves.
"A lot of management pass-outs, especially in tier two and three schools, are open to doing gig projects and earn some money while also learning on the job," said Utsav Bhattacharjee, co-founder at Reculta, a company in the campus recruitment space.
Bhattacharjee added that demand for manpower may not pick up anytime soon and even if it does, it may not be anywhere close to pre-covid levels. So when the next batch of students graduates next year, the competition would have increased multi-fold.
According to human resource consultants, given the paucity of jobs in the market, freshers will need to be much more flexible.
"When these people are finally onboarded few quarters down the line, the smallest work experience will count over no experience irrespective of whether it is in their own sector or otherwise. A blank page will not find favour now," said Sudeep Kumar Sen, business head - Industrial, Manufacturing and Engineering at TeamLease.