IT companies look beyond engineering graduates

Written by Diksha Dutta | Diksha Dutta | Kirtika Suneja | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 24 2012, 09:46am hrs
An engineering degree is considered by many as the ticket to employment in the $69-billion information technology-information technology-enabled services (IT-ITeS) industry. But the reality is a bit different. With the IT-ITES industry looking for niche talent in testing and infrastructure management, which do not necessarily require engineering graduates, only 20% of the 900,000-odd engineering graduates every year are being recruited by the industry.

The fresh graduates are also being attracted by the manufacturing and automotive sectors.

It is a misconception that the IT industry employs most of the engineers that graduate each year. A significant number goes to sectors like manufacturing and automotive as well. It would be safe to say that close to 20% of the engineering graduates are absorbed by the industry. And 75-90% of the talent in the IT industry would have an engineering degree, said Nasscom president Som Mittal.

While 30% of the talent in the country comprises engineering graduates, 46% are non-engineering graduates and the rest are specialists like chartered accountants, CPAs, doctors, lawyers, PhDs and actuaries, who are in high demand from the IT industry. The trend, according to both Nasscom and technology schools, is moving towards such niche talent as the industry is now offering complex and end-to-end services.

IIT Madras was approached by 175 IT companies in 2011, whereas this year the number reduced to 138. Commenting on the number of engineers joining IT companies, an official from IIT Kharagpur said: This year five students from our computer science branch were placed in IT companies, against 26 in other/ non IT sectors. Around 15-20% of engineering students are being placed in the IT sector in the last few years.

Analysts feel that the recent profiles that are novel in the

IT industry necessarily do not need engineers and thus the matrix is changing. Today, the industry directly employs 2.77 million professionals of whom safely 60% are hardcore engineering graduates.

Earlier IT companies hired close to 100% of their staff as engineers, now it has reached 90% and soon it will be 70% in the next two to five years. The BPO sector is emerging and there are new processes like testing and infrastructure management which necessarily do not need engineers, said Zensar Technologies CEO Ganesh Natarajan. He added that most of these engineers, roughly around 4-4.5 lakh of the 9 lakh, are not employable by the IT industry as well. Moreover, 20% of the engineering graduates also go for higher education every year. Thus, the IT-ITes sector has to choose from the residual.

Many graduates from other disciplines (eg mathematics and computing) also opted for IT profile offered by various organisations, said a student from IIT Guwahati where 37% of the placed students joined the IT sector, including organisations like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Adobe and InMobi.

Though the employability rate in the IT industry was 25% as per our study in 2005, we believe that the situation is better now because of initiatives by tech companies who have started their own certification programmes, said Nasscom senior vice-president Sangeeta Gupta.

An official from IIT Kharagpur said: Chunk of the students prefer consultancy and core jobs over IT jobs. IT sector is mostly confined to students from the IT department and few others from other departments. The demand for consultancy jobs is very high. From the past few years, the trends show that students tend to drift away from IT jobs. Those who are interested in further studies, work in core sector for a few years and those interested in pursuing an MBA, go for the consultancy jobs, the official said.