Disclaimer : The views presented here are entirely my own and are not representative of the opinions held by my employers or friends or family
The boom in the Indian IT sector for the past decade has led to tremendous amount of hiring across undergraduate campuses for capable resources that are willing to work for well paying jobs. When the IT jobs were created in India – the most coveted lines of engineering in universities were Computer Science, Information Technology and Electronics & Communications engineering. Due to the dearth of good colleges “outputting” even lesser employable students – companies started looking at similar non-engineering courses like Bachelor/Masters of Computer Applications. In a few years, the demand was so high, that companies gave up on the pretext that knowledge of software was important, and a sufficient I.Q and E.Q ( Emotional Quotient) that made you employable was enough to hire you. So students from non-software based streams of engineering were hired from campuses. The corporate then took the ownership of training these hires for periods of 6 months to a year and equipping them on skills that was important to make them employable. Over the years, as demands for resources grew, corporates started collaborating with universities and investing in them to train their students so that the cost of “hire and train” period on company payroll reduced. This collaboration has been a win-win for both the IT companies who get better trained entry level recruits from their prefered campuses and for the universities that are able to benefit from the financial impetus and ability to expose their students to corporate programs.
So today, I was reading the article in The Hindu about the challenges and the changes in IT Recruitment Strategy – http://www.thehindu.com/education/article2158393.ece#comments/
This article, if you browse through, talks about the changing criteria for being “employable” in IT over the years and how companies are now looking at building along with other skills what is called the “Flexibility Quotient” – so that recruits are inculcated more with the feeling of “team work” and “company loyalty” and less of “me first” approach. That sounds reasonable from the industry perspective. However, it would be worth to take a moment to consider why this could be ( and note that I am not doing this with any statistics but with my general knowledge of the industry).
Students from different streams of engineering ( electrical, civil, mechanical) etc are hired and then trained to work in core specialist roles that have very little to do with their education. IT jobs pay well and are more lucrative than the jobs that are offered in the industry that undergrads are specializing in – hence are applied for anyway. The money, security and opportunity to travel abroad is the prime motivator for taking up the job – but not the “love” for the kind of work it promises. It’s just a job. So I believe that this gap is inherent to the hiring process and will remain so as it focuses on ambition but not on passion for work.
The other issue the article talks about is broadening the hiring platform and let me quote the article for that
“Mr. Kamath rubbished the fact that BA and B.Com graduates were considered bottom layer. Stressing that they too were needed by the industry, he said the verticals were varied and gave scope for those from different disciplines. Complementing his view, Sheela Ramachandran, Vice-Chancellor of Avinashilingam University, Coimbatore, said since 70 per cent of the work force was from arts, science and commerce, the best practices that were applied to engineers to make them employable should also be extended to the former”
I found this kind of disturbing. And I will shortly explain why without taking it out of context. Let me begin first by saying that I do understand that as demand for “employable” entry level employees increases, the industry is looking at way for reaching out to larger pool of potential resources. They will do what it takes to hire the best resources and that’s that.
What sounds worrying, that due to lack of similar investments and lucrative jobs from other industries , will most of employable workforce end up in IT ? Shouldn’t there be comparable parallel industry requirements for commerce, humanities, manufacturing, infrastructure, old-school engineering, education sector so that people who study these fields are consumed in their relevant areas. Its sounds like such a waste of education if no matter what you study you will be made “employable” to fit into an IT job. And is that healthy for an economy ? Isn’t prosperity of a country identified in growth and achievement in all spheres from civic development, technology, agriculture to arts and cultures. Is there is no incentive for the future generations to participate in the overall growth of the economy?
Yes, with influx of dollars our economy has created jobs especially in retail and hospitality – but most of that is incidental and not targeted or planned. Growth in higher education has also been with the purpose of creating a workforce for the burgeoning IT Sector. It’s just not wholesome – we need leaders, thinkers, implementors in all fields.
The IT companies are doing what they need to do but what about other sectors. And if they are not doing enough, shouldn’t there be some incentives for them to do so? Just some food for thought.