IT Cos outsource training to make grads job-ready

If you are a fresher joining Infosys, chances are you`ll wind up at its Mysore centre for training before being deployed to any project. But if you join Thinksoft, you`ll be packed off to TalentSprint for training. While large IT companies invest in infrastructure and workforce to train freshers, their mid-sized counterparts are beginning to outsource the training. 

"When you look at freshers today, you see potential, but there is a lot of work to be done to make them industry ready. As a small company, to invest in training infrastructure, is becoming increasingly unviable," says Vanaja Arvind, executive director of the Chennai-based ThinkSoft. The company is among the most recent additions to TalentSprint`s client list that includes Polaris, AppLabs and IBM, among others. 

Surveys done by various HR firms and industry bodies like Nasscom indicate that only 20-30% of the freshers who graduate from engineering colleges are industry ready. So while the number of engineering colleges are on the rise, so are the number of unemployable graduates. And this, while companies are crying over a talent scarcity. 

"Companies have no choice but to heavily invest in training. In my previous company, we used to spend almost Rs 2.5 lakh and six months on each candidate to make him industry ready," says Santanu Paul, CEO-MD of TalentSprint, who used to head the Indian operations of Virtusa. 

Companies like TalentSprint, QAI and Indian Institute of Job Training (IIJT) train fresh graduates with standard or company specific-programmes and place them in companies. In most cases, the student pays for the course and the company refunds it when the candidate signs up. For company-specific courses, like the Thinksoft Certification Program in Financial Software Testing, the candidate is listed on the payrolls of the company and given a stipend and funding for the course. 

"Students who come to us are usually from smaller cities, rural areas or lesser known colleges," says Mohandas Menon, practice head (service excellence), QAI. "The demand is so high that companies are finding the talent crunch crippling." 

At IIJT, around 70% of students are recruited after the regular programmes. "Another 20-30% are selected (conditional) but asked to undergo further training to meet requirements. Upon successful completion of programme and qualifying tests, they are inducted into the company," says Sangeeta Lala, V-P, TeamLease Services, which runs IIJT. 

Industry experts predict that the demand for such training institutes will grow. "Various sections of the recruiting process like selection, shortlisting and testing are getting outsourced. This will continue," says Ganesh Shermon, partner and country head of people & change practice, KPMG. "This trend is driven by the fact that hiring is no longer confined to a place or culture. Companies need to hire people at various locations and for them it will be easier if it is done through companies specialized in this process." 

The recruiting industry is becoming competitive. By expanding their portfolio to include as many services and giving the client companies a fully-trained employee who can be expected to deliver right from the first day, hiring firms add value to their services. 

There is constant pressure on such institutes to keep themselves abreast with current industry demands. "Success of such models depend a lot on the relationship they enjoy with the IT companies. There needs to be good coordination between the two," says E Balaji, MD-CEO, MaFoi Randstad. 

Going forward, experts predict that even big companies that have training infrastructure will turn to such institutes. The trickle has already begun. "For specific skills and for skills in newer areas such as IT Infrastructure Services, in addition to the campus hiring route which forms our core recruiting engine, we also do just-in-time hiring from a handful of finishing schools. These finishing schools administer customized training programmes and provide us ready-to-deploy talent," says Balakrishnan Shamugham, V-P (learning and development), Cognizant.

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