The slowing economy, changing business model of IT companies and fewer industry-ready candidates have impacted the placement activity in colleges in Tamil Nadu, barring IIT-M and deemed universities.

Barring IIT-Madras and a few deemed universities, campus recruitment figures in most engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu have dropped significantly this year.

College officials say most companies have resorted to restricting their recruitment numbers by at least 40 per cent this year, affecting the career aspirations of students. Also, the entry-level salaries in most IT companies, for graduating engineers has remained unchanged for the fourth year in a row, at Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 4 lakh.

Early placement trends from top campuses in the State indicated that the companies would continue to recruit students in large numbers, but that was restricted to IIT and the deemed universities alone. HR officials said that with the bad economy witnessing little attrition, most companies now have fewer vacancies to fill.

Universities such as VIT University and SASTRA managed to place most of their students and also attract more employers this year. Among departments of Anna University, Accenture recruited 204 students and offered to pay an average of Rs. 3.5 lakh per annum.

Microsoft offered the highest package on the Anna University campus with Rs. 16.5 lakh per annum. Firms such Accenture and IBM hired more aggressively than others this year.

Dream recruiters such as Ebay, Deloitte, analytics firm Musigma and Schneider Electric visited reputed engineering colleges but picked only the best students.

The campus placement at SASTRA has been good with over 1700 job offers being made by reputed companies such as Microsoft, eBay, Amazon, Ford, TVS Motors, TCS, Accenture, IBM, and Wipro.

“For the higher benchmarks that recruiters had this time, the recruitment productivity is reasonably high,” said S. Vaidhya Subramanian, Dean, Planning and Development, SASTRA.

Changing business model

The situation in other engineering colleges is different, with placement officials trying their best to attract employers. NASSCOM officials had earlier predicted a drop of 17 per cent in IT hiring, this year. The slowdown could be because companies are focusing on automation of work that automatically leads to lower intake for work. “Core companies used to recruit when the need arose, depending on their projects. Now, IT companies are changing their model of recruitment too, as bulk hiring is no longer feasible for them,” said R. Rajagopalan, an IT consultant.

“Most top and middle-level colleges, however, depend on Wipro, Accenture, IBM, TCS, Cognizant and Infosys to take the bulk of eligible students. With at least three companies sharing the first day slots, there are multiple offers being made to the same students, which leaves many students without a single job,” said a placement official in a tier-1 college.

Mr. Rajagopalan said that the manpower requirement of IT firms has come down significantly and it is better for them to hire more people at fewer campuses than spreading their recruitment over a large number of campuses.

“This means, the numbers in reputed engineering colleges have gone down, and those in good colleges are not significant either.”

Academic excellence

Sivagnana Prabhu, head of training, placement and communications at RMK Group of Institutions, said, “It is getting tougher for both colleges and students because the industry expectations have increased. Students have to be really job-ready and skilled to get selected.”

Also, in the last two years, a few companies have received much flak for taking over eight months to call the recruited graduates. So, they are more careful, he added.

At this stage, professors feel excelling at academics has become more important than it was ever before.

“Nearly one-fifth of the engineering colleges in the State have an overall pass percentage of just about 50 per cent. With companies insisting on selecting only students with at least 60 percentage and no arrears, just about 70 of the more than 500 colleges in Tamil Nadu will have any chance of placing at least half their students,” said R. Chandrasekharan, associate professor and placement in-charge of a reputed group of engineering colleges.

At a recent industry-academia interaction organised by Loyola ICAM College of Engineering and Technology (LICET), A.K. Pattabiraman, Principal Consultant, TCS, said the decreasing numbers could also be because of the wide disconnect between what the industry wanted and what the colleges were training their students for.

“Both colleges and companies have to work together to fill this gap.”

The gap is being addressed in many colleges. “Regular guest lectures by people from the industry and feedback about our own students helps. If the company officials are not able to come here and address students, we are sending our students to various companies to understand what they really want,” said Jose Swaminathan, Principal, LICET.