The End of Indian IT Staffing As We Know It By: - Articles Detail
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India's IT outsourcers are promoting "mini CEOs" capable of running businesses on their own, while trimming down on the hordes of entry-level computer coders they normally hire as they try to squeeze more profits out of their staff.
The shift by Infosys Ltd and others is symptomatic of a maturing industry that wants more revenue from its own intellectual property instead of providing only labour-intensive, lower-margin information technology and back-office services.
For young graduates who see the $108 billion IT industry as a sure pathway to modern India's growing middle class, the transformation is unsettling.
Dozens of industry aspirants who were recruited on campus by No. 4 player HCL Technologies recently protested outside its offices in several cities. They were offered jobs in 2011 before graduating last year but have not yet been given joining dates - or paychecks.
"Dear H.R. You were also a fresher... once," read a sign carried by two protesters in a photo in The Hindu newspaper.
HCL's December quarter profits and revenues rose while staff numbers shrank - a rare trick in an industry that has long aspired to break the linear relationship between headcount and revenue growth.
Just 20 percent of the 5,000-6,000 campus recruits offered HCL jobs in 2011 have been taken on board since graduation last summer, and HCL said it made no offers in 2012 to students who would graduate in June 2013.
Slower growth, fewer people leaving, greater demand by customers for experienced staff, and increased productivity through automation and software have put pressure on all recruits, according to HCL, which said it expects to accelerate bringing entry-level staff on board from August.
"It's not that the demand doesn't exist. It exists for different skills," said Ajay Davessar, HCL's head of external communications.
"Typical roles which a student thinks, 'I'll just go there and start coding, and have a good life,' are being tested to reality... Any applicant, be it fresher or senior, will have to have flexibility in applying the skills elsewhere."
Tech Mahindra Ltd, the No.5 player, is naming 100 of what it calls mini-CEOs who will be given broad latitude to run their parts of the business.
"We're moving towards a situation like the developed economies, where we're asking the people to be more deep," said Sujitha Karnad, who heads human resources at Tech Mahindra.
"We want more solution architects to be here. We don't want the coding coolies anymore, that's clear," Karnad said, employing a term commonly used in India in association with menial labourers.
While plenty of Indian back office work such as technical support, processing insurance claims or staffing call centres will remain labour-intensive, software services firms are looking to move up the value chain, which means relying less on the time and toil of staff.
Growth in revenue per employee across the industry could expand to 5 percent a year in the next two years from about 3 percent over the past five, said Forrester Research principal analyst Frederic Giron. The growth rate is likely to accelerate from around 2015 as intellectual property-based work accounts for a growing share of the total, he said.
India's IT services industry grew in large part because of the availability of cheap skilled labour, an advantage that is eroding as wages and other costs in India rise.
In years past, it was cost-effective for IT companies to hire new graduates by the thousands and keep a portion on the "bench" awaiting deployment on a client project.
But budget-constrained clients now demand shorter lead times. IT vendors that might have hired people six months in advance of an expected contract are now working with a one- or two-month window, said Surabhi Mathur Gandhi, senior vice president at TeamLease, a staffing consultancy.
Traditionally, about 30 percent of Indian IT services industry staff are on the bench at any given time, often in training, as they await deployment to client work.-Reuters
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