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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Campus Placements At IITs Getting Tough

Campus Placements At IITs Getting Tough

By Ahona Chakravarty
July 08, 2024 10:40 IST
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Nearly 40 per cent of IITians sitting for placements in 2024 are yet to receive job offers, showing a doubling of the 'unplaced' in the last three years from 19 per cent in 2021-2022 to 38 per cent in 2023-2024.

IMAGE: Kindly note the image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Clker-Free-Vector-Images/Pixabay.com
 

Across coaching centres as well as homes of adolescents, an often-heard war cry is: 'Ek bar IIT chale jao, life set hai (once you join an IIT, you are guaranteed a good life).' Right now, many would be questioning that.

Getting into an Indian Institute of Technology is not easy. Of the 1,415,110 students who appeared in the JEE-Main 2024, less than 2 per cent would find a seat.

The IIT acceptance rate is said to be lower than that of the famed MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA).

But now, in a turn of events, passing out of the IITs is not proving to be a cakewalk for everyone. Thousands are struggling to find jobs in campus placements.

At the end of May, Dheeraj Singh, who holds a chemical engineering degree from IIT Kanpur, filed a Right to Information application seeking placement data for the last three academic years from IIT Kharagpur.

On June 12, the institute replied: In 2021-2022, of the 2,256 who registered for placement, 1,615 were placed, which works out to 71.5 per cent.

In 2022-2023, of the 2,490 who registered, 1,675 -- 67.2 per cent -- were placed. And last year, 2023-2024, 1,564 were placed out of the 2,660 who registered -- falling further to 58.7 per cent.

The placement process was still going on when the reply came.

"Please note that typically 75 per cent of the graduating students register for placements in IIT Kharagpur and the remaining pursue other options, such as higher studies, entrepreneurship, civil services, etc," Singh told Business Standard.

He had sought similar data through RTIs from the other IITs as well and says nearly 40 per cent of the IITians sitting for placements in 2024 are yet to receive job offers, showing a doubling of the 'unplaced' in the last three years from 19 per cent in 2021-2022 to 38 per cent in 2023-2024.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, there is a parallel dampening of salaries. "Entry level salaries are not what they used to be," says Ramesh Alluri Reddy, CEO, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship.

Singh recalls the hype around the crore-plus packages offered at IITs that made headlines, and says: "The reality is that the median package has gone down by 15 to 20 per cent."

A student at IIT Delhi says many of his mates on the campus are worried. Even people who are placed or have received pre-placement offers fear that their offers might get revoked -- this has happened before.

So, why is it that thousands of IITians are not 'set for life'?

Global economy, AI

Experts say a big reason is the macroeconomic condition.

"There is a slowdown in the global economy, there is this war situation, and everything is so volatile right now," says Reddy.

Singh, who filed the RTIs, says that due to the higher interest rates, particularly in the United States, and the higher inflation, companies are focusing more on profitability than growth.

"They are certainly reducing their headcount, which is the first expense they want to optimise on," he says.

Another reason is the over-hiring by tech firms during the COVID-19 pandemic, when technology was seen to be in an endless phase of boom. Reddy says this resulted in high attrition. Companies also started restructuring.

Purnendra Kishore, who studied at IIT-BHU and spent years in the education sector, says information technology firms, the biggest recruiters at IITs, were caught between a large employee base and falling demand.

"These firms had been the mass recruiters, and when they went missing, the situation worsened," he adds.

Another factor is the adoption of artificial intelligence. Its sudden ramp-up has affected software engineering jobs the most, leading to a sharp drop in job offers.

On the bright side, according to a study by the International Labour Organisation, generative AI is more likely to enhance jobs by automating specific tasks, rather than replacing entire roles.

The report states that most jobs are only partly susceptible to automation.

Need to upskill

Singh says the pace of automation is so fast due to AI that recruiters no longer require to hire for the low-end jobs.

For example, currently there is demand for AI learning skill sets, but openings for web developers has decreased across firms.

Companies are making significant changes to their business models, hiring for specific functions or skill sets, and students are not able to cope with the pace of change.

"Students in software engineering courses do not know the skills of a prompt engineer, which is crucial now," says Reddy.

Traditionally, IT, engineering, consulting, and finance companies have predominantly hired from IITs.

This is changing, with a rise in hiring by manufacturing and semiconductor companies, and global capability centres, or GCCs.

In addition, the electric vehicles industry is poised to create a large number of direct and indirect jobs. So are the drones industry and National Green Hydrogen Mission.

There is an anticipated surge in demand for roles in chip design, cybersecurity, machine learning, and user experience design.

But it will take special efforts to grab some of those jobs.

According to the Deloitte Campus Workforce Trends 2024, more firms are now shifting towards hiring based on skills.

For example, artificial intelligence and machine learning jobs in engineering, social selling in management, and computational biology in pharma are the most in-demand segments.

"Campus hiring this year is witnessing a mild slowdown... companies are preferring experienced candidates over freshers. Campus compensation for the top 10 colleges, including IITs, has witnessed a marginal decline for the first time in the last five years," says Neelesh Gupta, Partner, Deloitte India.

"AI, machine learning, cyber security, computational dynamics, robotics, mechatronics and control systems, and ESG Tech are the top skills which are commanding a 10 to 15 per cent pay premium in campuses," Gupta adds.

Hope floats on campuses

Coaching institutes across the country witnessed a steep drop in intake during the pandemic due to limited social access.

Prominent coaching institutes saw a decline in admissions by 30 to 35 per cent. But, as the economy opened up, admissions surged, and continue unabated in spite of the rise of the unplaced.

Kishore says several of those enrolling in Kota and other coaching hubs come from small towns.

"They are awed by the dream of going to an IIT. It is hard for them to analyse the recent developments," he adds.

In the large metros, young people talk about several career options, but in the smaller towns the options are largely engineering, medicine, and other conventional paths.

Singh says there is need for an employment data system for the country.

"The Reserve Bank of India, before its monetary policy, should be able to look at the employment indicators, just like the Fed in the US does before deciding the interest rates. That's a huge input for the industry to kickstart investments and the growth cycle," he adds.

Reddy says there needs to be at least six months to a year of practical on-the-job training as part of the course. Institutes should also introduce more vocational courses.

But there is hope.

At IIT Patna, 72 per cent of the registered candidates are already placed and the process is underway for others.

"We expect a decent improvement in the statistics till June 2024," says Kripa Shankar Singh, Training and Placement Officer at the institute.

He adds that upskilling is an important step the institute has taken to meet recruiters' expectations.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com

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Ahona Chakravarty
Source: source
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