HT reports: IT firms are hiring less and offering less as they pick up talent from campuses. In some cases, companies are even refusing to go through with offers they've already made.
The report goes on to cite stats from specific colleges:
* 15% drop in hiring at Army Institute of Technology (AIT). 194 students picked up compared to 232 last year.
And of course the drop is much worse at less prestigious colleges such as:
* Pune Vidyarthi Griha (PVG) where 131 students were picked up as against 260 last year
* Amity University, where Tech Mahindra offered jobs to just 20 students, as against 111 last year.
What's more, IBM has actually withdrawn offer letters and is not even visiting IIT Chennai, where it had picked up 66 students last year.
Where the report falters is when the writer states,"This is the first time since the outsourcing boom began a decade ago that IT companies are dragging their feer on campus hiring.".
Is our memory really so short? The exact same thing happened in 2001-3 after the dotcom bust.
Those graduating in those years had a tough time getting jobs and Infosys had famously withdrawn offer letters made at IIT Bombay. However it created so much bad press that IIT B alum Nandan Nilekani intervened and made sure no students with offers were left high and dry.
In fact even when I wrote this piece for rediff.com in June 2004, it was relatively tough to get an IT job. But a year later the situation had changed and jobs were raining down.
So in a sense we have come full circle.
Moral of the story? First of all, we have way too many engineering colleges (1600 plus). And students join them, regardless of quality, because they think it will get them an IT job.
On the other side, in boom time IT companies were hiring as if picking out alu and pyaaz in the sabzi mandi - because they had so much work at hand. Now, all of a sudden, they are 'quality conscious'.
I think companies are merely the consumers of talent - the responsibility for quality lies with the colleges. This is the time for colleges and students to introspect. And strive to be more than glorified IT placement agencies. Are they up to the challenge? Or will everyone simply wait it out??
Coz this year and next year's batches may suffer. But ultimately the good times will return and we can go back to a world where people spend 4 years studying civil engineering. Only to become IT jocks.
And we can all forget about quality and offer letters being withdrawn - until the next slowdown.