Tech it or leave it

"For most engineering grads first job’s a passing phase of less than two

years"proclaims a headline in today’s Economic Times

 

A C Nielsen ORG Marg’s T Schools ’05 Campus Recruiters Index has made

the less than startling discovery that 64% of engineering grads who join

tech companies intend to leave within the first two years or less. This

number is apparently up from 47% in 04 and 59% in 05.

 

Fact is, few engineering grads seem really enthused about joining

Infosys, TCS, Wipro and the like – especially if they happen to be from

tier 1 institutes or God forbid, IIT. Company aa rahi hai, to chalo job

le lete hain.

 

And serve the companies right too in a way, if they’re willing to snap

up any which engineering graduate – civil, mechanical, metallurgical –

just because they need to add 10,000 bakras at a time.

 

Although their HR depts claim that they have systems which ensure a

smooth induction, training and deployment onto projects that isn’t quite

the case for everyone.

 

A 2004 graduate from a premier institute in Mumbai who was working with

Mastek had this to say: "Since IT companies conform to CMM level 5 they

have to keep a certain % of the workforce on the bench ie idle. And it

can get damn frustating."

 

There are enough cases of freshers who complete their training and then

just cool their heels for a while: come to office everyday, send email

forwards to each other (the only timepass available in the absence of

internet access) and somehow get through till the end of the day.

 

Sounds like fun, doing nothing – but try doing it over a period of time.

Sucks bigtime!

 

Another complaint is "I asked to work on X technology but was put onto a

project using Z technology." Z is apparently getting ‘obsolete’ but

still a current business requirement. But that argument doesn’t cut ice

 

with apna ‘I-want-technologies-that-look-good-on-my-resume’ engineer.

 

The Long, Steep Climb

Although the 15,000 bucks you get in hand as a fresher seem decent

enough at the time of joining the really long ladder ahead is soon

evident.

 

In most companies it takes 18 months-2 years to get sent on an offshore

project and earn that precious dollar allowance (which is the carrot

dangling in every techie head). And though that’s not really a long time

many don’t have the patience.

 

Besides, they soon learn, the job is not really about programming at

all… One such dude sums up the average IT career path on a Pagalguy

forum:

 

There is not much of a ladder is S/W industry as such. For most life is

quite typical. One or two years in a company. Then a chance to go onsite

and see some money. Then back home. Another 2 years and then one becomes

an analyst and after 5-6 years, a manager. And your engineering branch

is the last thing that would matter here.

 

The work in S/w company is quite mundane and does not involve too much

programming skills. If you have good talking skills and project yourself

well to your managers, you would grow.

 

Given that scenario – and the fact that there is no inherent interest in

software as a career – getting into an MBA or MS program is a good

escape route. And seems like a faster way "up".

 

Basically, managing the aspirations of thousands of above average

intelligence 20somethings is no joke. Yes they have fantastic campuses,

working culture, and future prospects as well but when all that becomes

the norm, dil still maange more and that’s where the trouble lies.

 

 

Above average folks eventually hear voice whispering in their heads: "

Is what I am doing meaningful?" Here’s one techie’s answer, again posted

on the PG forum:

 

"Hmm, so you thought Windows XP was written in India? nops, but the

typing of all the HELP doc was done in India. You do not do much

programmin. If you are in Mainframe stuff, whereever you work it’s going

to dig into some code written in 1970 and you’ll be wondering half the

time "how could ppl write such hopeless code?" and you would need to add

one or two lines into that code. Yes not more than 20 lines!

 

If you are in any of those open system projects, Java, .NET half the

time is documentation stuff or changing and test some crap stuff. But

few projects have something good.

 

Remember software industry is not about creating new things. Its all

about client giving you work. Work that their IT team is NOT interested

in doing.

 

But you get money $$$$ and of course work exp and a life called "White

collar job".

 

Not very inspiring, especially in light of the fact that those with MBA

degree from premier institutes in the same company clearly seem to earn

more and rise faster. As well as enjoy greater mobility – they have the

option of leaving the software industry altogether if they wish.

 

So the answer to ‘how to stop attrition’ is : you can’t. Whether you

make people sign bonds or chart out detailed career paths – if they join

your industry because it’s the easiest job available to them and not out

of inherent aptitude or interest, they’re always going to be difficult

to hold onto.

 

And companies are accepting that and just taking in more and more people

to begin with (luckily we seem to have a large enough population of

B.E.s to draw on!).

 

Of course one could argue why single out engineering grads – 2 years is

the average time most young people spend in their first jobs. Whether in

media or BPO or KPO or whatever. And even after an MBA.

 

The country is awash with jobs – it’s easier to leave and more tempting

to do so than ever before. Let’s see how long the party lasts!

 

 

 

 

Uday M. Shankar

Member, Scientific Team

Zafin Labs – R&D Wing, Fujairah, UAE

 

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  1. #1 by Home Improvement Journal on August 17, 2007 - 8:09 am

    Thanks for sharing this information. Really is pack with new knowledge. Keep them coming.

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