Campus Placements

Placements at top engineering colleges pick up steam

M.G Arun

The mood was upbeat at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Bombay after the first two weeks of the final placements for the academic year 2013-14 that started on December 1. By December 16, the institute had made 843 placements, with offers coming in from as many as 245 companies. The highest offer, at $135,000, came from durables and handset major Samsung Korea, which hired 14 candidates for both its US and Korea offices compared to just one last year. Placement faculty in charge Avijit Chatterjee is confident of many more companies coming in. "We are expecting 350 companies to make offers this time round," he said. "We normally place anywhere between 800 to 900 students every year, but this year it could be more."

{mosimage}Hiring from top-notch engineering campuses appears to have seen a revival in the current year, with some of India's top institutes seeing big companies, especially from the technology space, swooping down on campuses, offering high pay packets. This year, a host of multinational companies, including Microsoft, Samsung, Google, Facebook, Intel, Nomura and Citicorp, have been active in the Indian campuses, along with home-bred firms such as Flipkart. IIT-Bombay has seen a 10-15 per cent hike over last year in the average salary being offered to students on the first day of campus placements. The institute, like its peers in the country, keeps the name of the students picked up by companies under wraps. IIT-Madras saw big firms such as Oracle, Intel Technology and Nomura and Eaton Technologies make bulk recruitments. IIT Delhi saw around 570 students getting placed upto December 16. "The numbers are more or less the same as that of last year," says Shashi Mathur, Professor-In-Charge, Training and Placement Cell of IIT-Delhi. "However, this time, we are seeing more companies coming in for recruitment, as opposed to fewer companies making bulk recruitment,"

At IIT-Kanpur on December 1, students accepted around 125 offers from 20 companies. As many as 225 companies are scheduled to interview students this year compared with 170 last year at the institute. IIT Kharagpur, meanwhile, saw the highest package of $125,000 in the first few days of the placement. E-commerce company Flipkart is said to have made 26 offers at Flipkart, the highest among any IIT. In the final campus placement, students get picked up in their seventh or eighth semester of their course, and will be able to join the respective companies by May, after they complete their graduation.

At IIT-Bombay, the offers came in from a mix of IT and engineering companies. The top IT companies included Google, Microsoft, IBM and Linked In, while engineering comprised Shell, Schlumberger and Eaton. Consulting major Goldman Sachs had a presence this year, and so did top Indian firms such as Tata Motors and Reliance Industries. The first phase of the placements will go on upto December 18, and the second phase will start in the second week of January and continue through July. Google picked up three people for is California office, and seven for the Indian office. Investment firm WorldQuant made an offer of Rs.38 lakh a year for a domestic posting to pick up four students, while private equity major Blackstone offered Rs.35 lakh.

Start-ups vie with established firms

IIT Rourkee, on the other hand, saw 60 companies making offers at the campus upto December 6, placing 340 students, mostly from the IT sector. Some of the major MNCs that came in to recruit from the campus include Google, Oracle, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Schlumberger. Large Indian companies that recruited included ITC, Cairn Energy, Tata Motors, Reliance Industries and Reliance Jio Infocomm. According to Keerthi Agarwal, student placement co-ordinator at the institute, there were several start ups that came down to the campus too, including advertising services company Wooqer, analytics company Axtria, and management portal Indus Inside. These start-ups are offering salaries in the range of Rs.8 lakh to Rs.16 lakh per annum. Google made the highest offer at a whopping $1,25,000 per annum, with additional bonuses and stock options, for a position at its global headquarters in Mountain View, California. Overall, around eight students were offered positions overseas in the first six days of placements at IIT Rourkee.

At IIT Kharagpur, 250 companies had visited the institute in the first six days of the placement season, and 400 students were placed. Some of the major companies that recruited from the campus include Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Schlumberger Asia Services, Google, IBM, Shell, Abbott, SAP (Europe), Hindustan Unilever and Housing. The highest domestic package offered was Rs.37 lakh and the highest offer from abroad $1.25 lakh, said Sudhirkumar Barai, Professor-in-charge, training & placement.

Recruiters at campuses are broadly categorised into four - consulting firms, investment banking companies, IT companies which include internet based firms, and software companies, and traditional large recruiters. Almost all major Indian companies, including Reliance Industries, Larsen & Toubro and Asian Paints, among others, are major recruiters from top-notch campuses.
It was not just money that drove some students to pick up offers. Two students of IIT Kanpur are reported to have rejected a Rs.1.31 crore offer from US technology major Oracle to settle for more challenging but less paying jobs at Google. Earlier, there had been attempts to pick up students through campus placements even in the 5th or the 6th semester. However, this was later dropped as it was seen to interfere with students' studies.

"Our requirements in terms of trainees who join the company saw an increase between financial year 2010-11 and 2011-12," says Yogi Sriram who heads HR at engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro. Thereafter, the pattern of intake has been consistent with an average total requirement of trainees in categories such as graduate engineer trainees, post graduate engineer trainees and diploma trainees, notching up to over 4,000 per year, he added.

Overall picture still grim

Experts say that the placement environment has turned out to be better for the top institutes, although the story is not so bright for the Tier 2 and 3 campuses. According to E Balaji, former CEO of manpower consulting firm Randstad, it is the Tier 1 institutions, such as the IITs, and NITIE (National Institute of Industrial Engineering at Powai in Mumbai) that are witnessing an increase in recruitment from top-rung companies, while many graduates in smaller institutions are left out, either because large companies do not visit these campuses, or companies do not find the students employable.

Only 20 per cent of the two lakh graduates that come out of 3,600 engineering colleges in the country get placed in suitable jobs. "In that case, there is both unemployment and underemployment," says Balaji. "Several engineers end up working as sales executives, so there is no link between what they studied and what they do." Even premier institutions had found it difficult to place all their students in the recent past. During 2012-13, as much as 23 per cent students of IIT-Bombay failed to get a placement, compared to 18 per cent in the year earlier, due to the slowdown. Of the 1,421 students who registered for the placement programme, only 1,099 or 77 per cent were offered jobs then.

Several engineering colleges bore the brunt of the economic slowdown. In the first six months of the current fiscal, as many as 116 engineering colleges and business schools asked the technical education regulator All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) permission to shut down, compared to 100 in the whole of 2012-13. In four states, over two lakh engineering seats lay vacant in the current academic year, as only a fifth of graduates in the previous year go jobs as slowdown hampered recruitment.

"The rebound is happening largely in recruitment by IT companies in IITs, but not beyond that," says Manish Sabharwal, Chairman of Teamlease, a staffing firm. There are signals that the confidence is coming back in IT. However, average freshers' salary for IT majors such as Infosys, Wipro and TCS has remained the same, since there is a glut of engineers at present. "Recruitment by MNCs make headlines, but do not move the needle," he added. Engineering and manufacturing companies are not adding recruits at the entry level, and a rebound to 2007 levels of recruitment in these sectors is nowhere in sight.

AICTE also said that the percentage growth in number of engineering institutions in India has come down from high of 43.2 per cent in fiscal 2009 to 5.3 per cent in fiscal 2012. "In some cases, half the seats at engineering colleges are not filled. Also, only half the students that graduate get jobs in the first year, which is a cause to worry," says Balaji. "The overall picture is still not rosy."


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