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India – Quality of entry-level talent worries IT firms

02 April 2013

Indian companies are increasingly complaining about the lack of quality talent at the entry level and more so in the IT services industry.

Recent research conducted by Knowledgefaber, a Bangalore-based research & consulting firm suggests that only students from tier 1 engineering colleges, which constitute 4.5% of the overall engineering graduates; have the skills required to work for the likes Microsoft and Google.

On the other hand, 45% of students from tier 1, 2 and 3 colleges are employable by IT services companies like Infosys and Wipro, reflecting the hiring challenges these technology firms grapple with in a fast changing industry.

Knowlegefaber's research found that there are huge regional imbalances in the availability of engineering graduates. Four states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra ) together have more than 70% of these graduates.

To add to this concern is the question raised on the quality of engineering schools in India and the quality of graduates coming out of these colleges, said the research. "Customer needs are changing and technology developments are placing greater demand on the industry. Outstanding interface skills, deeper domain knowledge and awareness of the business context has become a 'must have' for today's professionals.

Not all colleges that churn out students have been able to build these skills into their curriculum, thereby necessitating companies to bridge the skill gaps and bring about standardization of capability, among students hired from different parts of the country," said Hari T, chief people officer at IT services firm Mahindra Satyam.

This is the reason why companies will have to hunt for talent beyond the IT services industry. "Across industries, companies are looking to hire from tier 1 engineering colleges but the competition is very high and it represents less than 5% of the overall talent pool.

We feel it is best recommended to look at talent in tier 2 and 3 cities," said Amit Goel, CEO, Knowledgefaber.

Computer science and IT accounts for nearly 32.5% of the fresh engineering talent in India while the electronics and mechanical streams come in second and third with 21.8% and 17.7% of students opting for these respectively.

Sangeeta Lala, senior VP & co-founder at TeamLease Services, said,"IT graduate freshers are not usually skilled with new technologies like cloud computing, making them a less preferred option for companies. These companies would then look to internal scaling or experienced candidates who are readily deployable with the knowledge of new technologies."

Many IT firms have set up huge training facilities to help these graduates scale up, which experts say is the way forward. Also, they have facilitated tailor-made courses to bring the right talent on board. "Through new hybrid models, corporates are sponsoring courses, selecting the students according to their needs, providing the content and course material related to their industries and business, which is actually increasing the possibilities of employment for students," said Sunil Goel, MD, from recruitment firm Global Hunt India.

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