IT job cuts: After Wipro, Infosys, now IBM lays off thousands in India

Global information technology (IT) services major IBM has let go of a few thousand employees from its Indian unit, which is believed to employ one of its every three workers globally.

IBM joins local peers such as Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant and Tech Mahindra in pruning staff as the IT sector faces technology shifts towards automation, and from manning legacy system to digital and cloud.

IBM India was looking at a target of "achieving 100 per cent utilisation" across all projects with a shift in business and increased demand for digital-technology based services, a person familiar with the development said.

For example, if a project currently has eight software engineers, roughly two of them are released and redeployed on other projects to achieve full utilisation across projects. "However, no one is kept idle on the bench now," an engineer at IBM said. "In some cases, people have to upgrade themselves with new technology skills to get redeployed. But, those who are not willing are at risk and often told to go."

Kris Lakshmikanth, chairman and managing director of recruiting agency The Head Hunters India, echoes the engineer at the company: "If you are on the Bench at IBM, you are in trouble. While net addition has come down, the company is trimming its workforce gradually."

IBM does not disclose how many of its 380,000 employees are for its India unit.

An IBM spokesperson said "this is factually incorrect. We are not going to comment further on rumours and speculation."

Industry body Nasscom has maintained that workforce realignment in IT services linked to performance appraisal processes is a regular feature every year.

"Skilling and workforce realignment are essential to remain competitive in international markets. It needs to be appreciated that such workforce realignment is a normal part of the internal process of companies based on their own operational imperatives; companies evaluate their priorities and business imperatives and continuously align talent to serve their needs and enhance competitiveness. It is reiterated that no significant changes have been reported or observed this year," Nasscom said in a statement on May 12. 

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