IT hiring could come down by 17% this fiscal: Nasscom

Rising automation and low attrition in IT sector may act as a dampener for job seekers with industry body  NASSCOM expecting hiring to decline by up to 17 per cent to 1,50,000 in the current fiscal. The 108-billion dollar Indian IT-ITeS sector provides employment to about 3 million professionals.

“I think we will have net additions of 150,000-180,000 this year. Last year it was about 180,000,” Nasscom President Som Mittal said when asked about the hiring environment.

Explaining the decline, he added: “It might be less than last year, as it is getting non-linear and lower-end jobs are getting automated. The profile is changing and we need more Domain experts.”

Attrition levels have also come down to around 14-15 per cent against the industry average of 20 per cent earlier. Mittal also said that campus hiring may fall significantly due to change in hiring patterns.

“Campus hiring may be 60 per cent of what it was last year,” he said, adding that now employers are focusing more on soft skills and leadership qualities than on technical skills.

According to an analysis, three years back 80 per cent focus was on technical skills “but now only 40 per cent focus is on technical skills and the rest is on soft skills and Domain,” Mittal said.

Hiring by India’s four largest IT companies dropped by over 60 per cent in the April-June quarter of this year.

The top four IT services exporters made net additions of about 4,100 to their workforce during the quarter this year, against around 10,900 in the year-ago period.

“Ten years ago, we could hire half the graduating engineering students, but now, there is global uncertainty, automation, non-linear growth,” Mittal told ET even as a new engineering placement season gets underway in a rather bleak economic backdrop. “We cannot provide jobs to all.”

As it is, a fifth to a third of engineering graduates run the risk of being unemployed. Many others will take jobs well below their technical qualifications, an ET special feature had reported recently.

That’s the environment in which hundreds of non-IIT and second-tier colleges are now getting into a placement overdrive. They are roping in newer industries, inviting more companies, settling for salaries that are much lower than the minimum benchmarks, and encouraging more students to entrepreneurship.

“Last year, we had a placement record of 85%, but this time, we would be happy even if we meet 70% of the target,” says Guru Venkatesh, V-P (placement and corporate relations) for Dayananda Sagar Institutions. “Up until 2012, there were companies we would not touch…but this year, we are looking at all.” But top-rung institutes, including the Indian Institutes of Technology, remain relatively insulated. “We have no worries. Only 15% of our students join the IT sector and for our 1,200-odd students (all streams included), salaries are expected to go up as well,” said an official from the placement office of IIT-Madras. The average salary has gone up from 8.9 lakh for the batch of 2012 to 11.4 lakh for the class of 2013.

“IT companies, which used to be the large recruiters, will hire fewer people, so we are trying to get more firms to make up for the numbers,” says Venkatesh.

“In 2012, around 100 companies came. This time, we will try for 200, which includes startups,” he adds.

Colleges are compromising on salaries too. “Last year, we had few companies offering 3-lakh plus salaries. This year, we are open to more companies with salaries of 3 lakh or so,” says an official from the placement team of VIT University, based in Tamil Nadu.

The campus has started its placements with companies like DE Shaw, Flipkart and Ebay.

IT companies, which constitute about 70% of hires, usually come later in the year, around September onwards.

Campus placements for engineering colleges start from mid-July and continue for the next eight months. Initially, those from core engineering industries, R&D and sectors like auto, manufacturing take their pick.

The IT mammoths, which hire in large numbers, come only in September but have said their hiring will be muted. “The overall industry will see muted hiring from campus this year,” says Pratik Kumar, executive vice-president for HR at Wipro.

Compared with the 2,30,000 IT jobs created in 2012, only 1,80,000 will be generated this year, according to Nasscom. This year, IT giants will hire in September during campus placements and again in May-June, to bulk up their off-campus placements, Mittal adds.

DTU will follow a similar strategy. “We have added 15% new recruiters only for computer science and IT students, keeping in mind that hiring numbers per company may take a hit,” says Neeraj Nimwal, training & placement officer for DTU. “Colleges need to look at other sectors like manufacturing, pharma, biotech as recruiters. In fact, I am more worried about those graduating four years later,” says Nasscom’s Mittal.

“Last year, we felt the heat when several more companies were required to take on all the students. This year, we will have to accommodate even more companies,” he says.

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