"For most engineering grads first job's a passing phase of less than two years"proclaims a headline in today's Economic Times
A C Nielsen ORG Marg's T Schools '05 Campus Recruiters Index has made the less than startling discovery that 64% of engineering grads who join tech companies intend to leave within the first two years or less. This number is apparently up from 47% in 04 and 59% in 05.
Fact is, few engineering grads seem really enthused about joining Infosys, TCS, Wipro and the like - especially if they happen to be from tier 1 institutes or God forbid, IIT. Company aa rahi hai, to chalo job le lete hain.
And serve the companies right too in a way, if they're willing to snap up any which engineering graduate - civil, mechanical, metallurgical - just because they need to add 10,000 bakras at a time.
Although their HR depts claim that they have systems which ensure a smooth induction, training and deployment onto projects that isn't quite the case for everyone.
A 2004 graduate from a premier institute in Mumbai who was working with Mastek had this to say: "Since IT companies conform to CMM level 5 they have to keep a certain % of the workforce on the bench ie idle. And it can get damn frustating."
There are enough cases of freshers who complete their training and then just cool their heels for a while: come to office everyday, send email forwards to each other (the only timepass available in the absence of internet access) and somehow get through till the end of the day.
Sounds like fun, doing nothing - but try doing it over a period of time. Sucks bigtime!
Another complaint is "I asked to work on X technology but was put onto a project using Z technology." Z is apparently getting 'obsolete' but still a current business requirement. But that argument doesn't cut ice with apna 'I-want-technologies-that-look-good-on-my-resume' engineer.
The Long, Steep Climb
Although the 15,000 bucks you get in hand as a fresher seem decent enough at the time of joining the really long ladder ahead is soon evident.
In most companies it takes 18 months-2 years to get sent on an offshore project and earn that precious dollar allowance (which is the carrot dangling in every techie head). And though that's not really a long time many don't have the patience.
Besides, they soon learn, the job is not really about programming at all... One such dude sums up the average IT career path on a Pagalguy forum:
There is not much of a ladder is S/W industry as such. For most life is quite typical. One or two years in a company. Then a chance to go onsite and see some money. Then back home. Another 2 years and then one becomes an analyst and after 5-6 years, a manager. And your engineering branch is the last thing that would matter here.
The work in S/w company is quite mundane and does not involve too much programming skills. If you have good talking skills and project yourself well to your managers, you would grow.
Given that scenario - and the fact that there is no inherent interest in software as a career - getting into an MBA or MS program is a good escape route. And seems like a faster way "up".
Basically, managing the aspirations of thousands of above average intelligence 20somethings is no joke. Yes they have fantastic campuses, working culture, and future prospects as well but when all that becomes the norm, dil still maange more and that's where the trouble lies.
Above average folks eventually hear voice whispering in their heads: " Is what I am doing meaningful?" Here's one techie's answer, again posted on the PG forum:
"Hmm, so you thought Windows XP was written in India? nops, but the typing of all the HELP doc was done in India. You do not do much programmin. If you are in Mainframe stuff, whereever you work it's going to dig into some code written in 1970 and you'll be wondering half the time "how could ppl write such hopeless code?" and you would need to add one or two lines into that code. Yes not more than 20 lines!
If you are in any of those open system projects, Java, .NET half the time is documentation stuff or changing and test some crap stuff. But few projects have something good.
Remember software industry is not about creating new things. Its all about client giving you work. Work that their IT team is NOT interested in doing.
But you get money $$$$ and of course work exp and a life called "White collar job".
Not very inspiring, especially in light of the fact that those with MBA degree from premier institutes in the same company clearly seem to earn more and rise faster. As well as enjoy greater mobility - they have the option of leaving the software industry altogether if they wish.
So the answer to 'how to stop attrition' is : you can't. Whether you make people sign bonds or chart out detailed career paths - if they join your industry because it's the easiest job available to them and not out of inherent aptitude or interest, they're always going to be difficult to hold onto.
And companies are accepting that and just taking in more and more people to begin with (luckily we seem to have a large enough population of B.E.s to draw on!).
Of course one could argue why single out engineering grads - 2 years is the average time most young people spend in their first jobs. Whether in media or BPO or KPO or whatever. And even after an MBA.
The country is awash with jobs - it's easier to leave and more tempting to do so than ever before. Let's see how long the party lasts!