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TCS, Infosys, Wipro: IT firms may hire 30% less in FY24

After the euphoric days of 2021 up to September-October 2022 where the likes of TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Tech Mahindra, Cognizant, Accenture and several other IT services firms hired freshers in droves in anticipation of growth, they are now planning to cut back on hiring freshers due to a weak deal pipeline amid lingering recessionary fears in the US. Staffing firm TeamLease Digital has projected a 30 per cent year-on-year decline in FY24.

Besides, several thousands of freshers from the 2022 and 2023 batches of engineering colleges who bagged jobs with IT services companies, on- or off campus, are facing endless onboarding delays. If many have not heard back from their prospective employers about a joining date after being promised a job over a year ago, for others it is little solace when companies keep extending joining dates every two-three months. Still others have been compelled to undergo additional training even as their offer letters are nearing expiry, while some have had their offers rescinded. They are essentially adrift in an uncertain tech job market.

Harpreet Singh Saluja, President of Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), estimates the employees’ union has received complaints of onboarding delays from 20,000-25,000 students in the past two batches. “Our contention is that if the business was down, what was the need to issue so many offer letters to these freshers?”

“These are young people and this [delays and revoking of offers] is totally wrong,” says T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Aarin Capital and former Infosys CFO. Industry veterans say firms should onboard freshers and train them right away, even if it means taking a hit financially for two-three quarters. “Yes, the business exigency is a real point. But they are still making profits and losing people at a reduced rate. They may have to hold on to surplus people for one-two quarters,” adds Pai.

Vineet Nayar, Founder Chairman of Sampark Foundation and former CEO of HCL Technologies, says: “Growth will come back for sure, today or tomorrow. It would be a wise decision to onboard freshers now and win their trust and respect.” Veteran CHRO Prabir Jha, Founder and CEO of boutique HR firm Prabir Jha People Advisory, says companies should have either honoured onboarding timelines or withdrawn offers. “It would have been a difficult but more honest decision.”

Today’s freshers are tomorrow’s leaders and it is imperative for the industry to make itself attractive to the top talent from the Tier II colleges at least, the experts say. Trim the industry’s bloated belly to regain interest from top-notch students, veterans suggest. A lot of people stop writing code after four-five years to become managers and pen pushers, says Pai.

“Cut the mid-level flab and pay freshers more. Let go of those at the top who are paid exorbitantly but are not productive or billable,” he adds. Jha points out that artificial promotions and title changes as retention strategies have inflated costs.

“Companies must be ruthless in ensuring promotions to middle- and senior-management are truly role-based.” Nayar suggests going back to campuses with five-year salary projections. “These investments will pay back very quickly as IT services is a people’s business. Organisations that believe in employees first will always win, both in down and up cycles.” BusinessToday

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