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IT majors dig into undergrads to feed hunger for talent

Indian software companies are taking the battle for talent to the classrooms of undergraduate colleges and universities, reports Prerna K Mishra.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2006 22:30 IST

Indian software companies are taking the battle for talent to the classrooms of undergraduate colleges and universities, shedding its traditional fascination with engineers and software technologists to address a crying need for workers who write code, stitch up technology solutions and offer consulting services for clients worldwide.

Industry leader Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which plans to recruit about 30,000 employees in the current fiscal year, has begun partnerships with 350 colleges across India to draw graduates from other than engineering or computer programming courses, its officials said on Friday.

While other information technology service vendors like Wipro and Infosys have for sometime been recruiting graduates who are not engineers to bridge their skill shortage, TCShas gone deeper by accrediting colleges and recruiting graduates from the science and mathematics streams directly from the institutions after an intensive seven-month residential transformation programme in which it would directly train students.

Another which has done something similar is Satyam Computer Services Ltd, the country's No 4 software exporter. The Hyderabad-based company has already adopted more than 50 colleges where it is mentoring and training students.

It plans to adopt 50 more in the second phase of its initiative.

The initiatives are guided by the fact that the country will need a total of 2.3 million professionals to meet the $60-billion export revenue target set for 2010 in IT and IT-enabled services, up from the current export figure of $23 billion, according to data from Nasscom (the National Association of Software and Service Companies).

The industry's current staff strength is estimated to be around 1.3 million.
More than five lakh engineering and science students graduate each year from more than 1,500 colleges across the country and that too with skills which industry officials say are far below requirements.

"Five hundred science graduates are currently undergoing the pilot programme at TCS's Chennai facilities. TCS plans to scale up and make offers to 2,000 science graduates during this academic year," the company's chief executive officer S Ramadorai told a news conference in New Delhi.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, too are joining the IT-inspired wave. Bangalore-based call centre firm 24/7 Customer on Friday announced a partnership programme with Tamil Nadu's Bharathiar University to source and develop talent for the industry.

The company is in talks with more than 100 placement officers from 108 colleges spread over Madurai, Thirunelveli and Tiruchi that are affiliated to the university.

The company's chief operating officer S Nagarajan said the partnership will expose students early to the skills needed for his industry, and is targeting around 40,000 graduates.

In fact, as the fight for talent intensifies, TCS, like most major vendors, is moving away from just recruiting in the metros. It expects to recruit about 5,700 and 7,200 engineering graduates from the so-called "Tier II" cities in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

Delving deeper into the country's engineering talent pool, the company also plans to recruit nearly 1,200 and 1,800 engineers from "Tier III" cities and even rural India in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

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First Published: Nov 24, 2006 22:30 IST