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Hope in the time of recession

There may be fewer jobs for MBAs and IITians in the market, but that has not stopped some from the government sector to lap up lucrative offers from overseas, reports Sidhartha Roy.

delhi Updated: Jan 27, 2009 13:49 IST
Sidhartha Roy
Sidhartha Roy
Hindustan Times

There may be fewer jobs for MBAs and IITians in the market, but that has not stopped some from the government sector to lap up lucrative offers from overseas.

Mid-ranking civil engineers, electrical engineers and air traffic controllers employed with government undertakings are now in high demand abroad.

Sky is the limit

The job of an air traffic controller is one of the most stressful in the world, especially at the busy Delhi or Mumbai airports. Therefore, the ability of Indian air traffic controller —handling close to 700 flight movements every day with a largely mishap proof record — is much in demand.

Four senior Air Traffic Control (ATC) officials, all from the Delhi ATC, have left the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which manages all civil air traffic in India, to join ATC services abroad.

“One of them has joined the ATC in Germany and another in Ireland. One of them has joined as an instructor,” said a senior ATC official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to talk to the media. Two others have left but are yet to join their new jobs.

“This is just the beginning, many more resignations are in the pipeline. We are the backbone of airport services in India but are not recognised well,” he said.

Though compared to usual government remunerations, ATC officials in India receive a good pay, but they say it is not comparable to the work they put in. “Globally, ATC officials receive much better remunerations,” he said.

While a senior ATC official earns anywhere between Rs 40,000 and Rs 70,000 per month in India, pay packages offered by European nations are in the bracket of Rs 5-6 lakh per month. “There is a huge demand of Indian ATC officials in European countries,” said a controller who has been offered a job abroad.

“Most international airports have three runways and ATCs have to handle much less air traffic. There is much less stress and responsibility,” he said. “They offer pension after ten years of service and provide green cards. You can take your family along,” he said.

In the 1970s, Indian ATC offcials were in high demand in the Gulf countries.

“There are offers from countries like Singapore, South Africa, Germany and Ireland. Unlike US or Canada, where only their citizens can become ATC officials, these countries allow foreign ATCs after a scrutiny,” he said.

The AAI is trying to put up a brave face. “Some people have left and joined ATCs abroad but the number of resignations pending with us is not too high,” said the AAI spokesman. “Senior people have left because these countries offer more salaries and fringe benefits but the problem is not serious enough,” he said.

The metro men

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is another public sector undertaking that is attracting headhunters from across the world.

Metros coming up in Dubai and Johannesburg have lapped up many DMRC engineers.

“Metro personnel, especially our electrical and civil engineers, are in great demand,” said DMRC spokesman Anuj Dayal. “Our work culture is different and we are more efficient than even private sector companies,” he said.

While DMRC salaries are comparable to government pay scales, foreign companies are offering its engineers six to ten times their salaries.

“There are, however, many who get offers but prefer to stay and work here,” Dayal added.

First Published: Jan 27, 2009 13:48 IST