IT hiring at 10-year low, Infosys takes campus hires as interns

India’s second largest software exporter Infosys Ltd is offering paid internship to campus hires before taking them on rolls, a move that that would impact new jobs across the IT sector when hiring by technology services companies is already at a ten-year low. 

"To clarify, the internship programme is over and above the campus hiring and training that we undertake," an Infosys spokesperson said on Friday.

The Indian technology services sector is facing its worst growth period in close to a decade as they see clients reducing budgets on traditional outsourcing work, which is not being offset by growth in newer areas such as digital and cloud. In addition, routine maintenance work of customer applications or IT infrastructure, where freshers are normally deployed have been taken over by automation or robots. 

With use of automation, these companies are shifting their employees from projects, where their jobs have become redundant and training them on skills to match new requirements. Infosys and its cross town rival Wipro shifted more than 8000 employees from projects to other roles due to automation during the first half of this fiscal. 

“It was a surprise for us that they came with the internship roles before taking our students as trainees,” says a placement head of a college, who did not want to be named. “The job market this year has been bad. We agreed to it as we have no option.” 

Infosys, among the pioneers to reach out to campuses through its Campus Connect programme says it provides a limited number of internships to students as they serve as an attractive proposition for potential employees. 

“These are usually made to students to whom we have made employment offers or to potential talent whom we are considering for the future. The former helps the candidates get acclimatised to the high impact technical environment prior to joining us; the latter enables us to build a closer collaboration with universities and the student community,” said an Infosys spokesperson, without commenting on specifics. 

The interns, who will be paid a stipend, would be assessed for their performance before being absorbed as trainees by the company. Like Infosys, other technology firms may adopt similar methods to reduce cost. It is an “unwritten understanding”, says Kris Lakshmikanth, chairman & managing director of The Head Hunters India, a specialized recruiting agency for IT sector. 

“Campus hiring by IT services firms is expected to reduce by 50 per cent and offering internship instead of trainee position is one of the methods to reduce cost at a time when the industry is not able to create adequate jobs. Not many companies will go to the campuses this year,” says Lakshmikanth. 

Analysts say the move by Infosys is one aspiring job seekers should be geared up in the coming days as India’s tech sector has become an “employer’s market.” 

“This could mean that they are creating another level to filter and choose the best talent. We are not in a high-growth phase now and jobs are not as easily available. It is more of an employers’ market,” said Pareek Jain, research analyst of HfS research. 

Not everyone is kicked off with the idea of Infosys making internship offers in lieu of job offers at campuses, but prefers taking interns during final year to expose aspiring students to the industry. 

“If a company takes students in the final semester for a project it is good. It is also a lesson for all engineering colleges to improve their quality because many of them are out of touch in terms of what the industry wants. But it should be done during the final semester and not after the course,” said T V Mohandas Pai, former head of HR at Infosys.

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