Common Written Exam for vacancies in the sector saw larger crowd this year

The Common Written Exam (CWE) for banking jobs on Saturday saw a larger crowd than usual, as many engineering graduates had decided to give it a shot.

The online exam conducted by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) was held here at a private company.

Manjula Ramamoorthy, an engineering graduate from Erode, said she was attempting the exam again after she failed to clear it last year. “I was not serious about preparation then. This time I am prepared,” she said.

Manjula, an ECE graduate, has been living in the city for the past six months, along with five of her collegemates, who were looking for a software job. “All six of us are writing the exam today. The software situation is rather bad. Unless you get recruited on campus, there seems no chance,” she said.

There was a sense of anxiety and panic among the applicants and their parents who had accompanied them as the exam started two hours past the scheduled time.

“They said the exam will start at 8.30 but it started at 10.30. Even the afternoon slot was delayed by two hours. We have not been allowed to sit inside the company shed,” said R. Radhakrishnan, who had accompanied his daughter, Purnima, an instrumentation engineer from Villupuram.

Purnima said she found the paper rather easy. “I tried getting into software companies but the companies kept delaying the interviews. The one that chose me finally said I will have to go work in Pune. I am hoping to get into a bank as many banks are headquartered in Chennai.”

In the last few years, IBPS has screened over 10 million candidates for testing and filled nearly 79,236 vacancies for its client organisations, besides testing candidates for admission to academic institutes and certification for diplomas, said an official.

“The banking sector will create more jobs, as several lower- and middle-level employees are bound to retire in the next five years. Also, banks are expected to take on board at least one lakh people every year, which IT companies might not,” said P. Hari Srinivasan, a senior official in a nationalised bank.

Sources say there are nearly 80,000 vacancies in various PSU banks across the country, waiting to be filled up this year. The 19 public sector banks, excluding State Bank of India, have been recruiting candidates for various posts through the CWE conducted by the IBPS.

“There will be new banks, newer verticals and existing banks and several openings in mobile- and technology-driven banking. Engineers will not only be welcomed but also preferred if they are skilled enough, as banks are getting competitive now,” said Kumar Selvan, a senior official from a leading PSU.

It is not easy to crack the exam though, officials say. “The exam tests the candidates on their basic reasoning abilities, mathematics, English and professional knowledge but many candidates fail to clear the test. Since the number of people taking it has also increased, the exam has become more competitive,” said Mr. Hari Srinivasan.

Last year, over nine banks recruited students from Madras University and were among the high-paying recruiters.

Many engineering candidates said they are turning to the public sector because they feel there is greater stability in the sector now. “IT companies are not recruiting off campus. Even their on-campus recruitment numbers have come down,” said Anand Mahendran, a computer science graduate who took the exam.

“Last year there was panic when HSBC and Citigroup announced their plans to downsize but now, with new vacancies the situation looks alright. A specialist officer in a bank is today paid Rs. 3.5 lakh a year while the average salary paid to an engineering graduate on campus recruitment by most companies is Rs. 3 lakh. I might as well take up a banking job,” he added.