Shocking Truth: Why Top IT Companies Are Breaking Job Promises to Fresh Graduates!

Nitin Gupta, a 23-year-old engineering graduate from SVCE Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, received a job offer from Mindtree in April 2022, just prior to its merger with L&T Infotech. Fast forward to August 2023, after a year and a half of undergoing multiple rounds of pre-onboarding training tests, his employment offer has been unexpectedly withdrawn. The reason? He did not pass a pre-onboarding test in July 2023. Gupta expresses his frustration, stating, “There is a significant difference between the score given to me by my trainer and the score claimed by the management. They haven’t provided any clear explanation for these differing scores.”

Gupta’s situation mirrors that of many recent graduates from the 2022 and 2023 graduating classes of engineering colleges who secured positions with IT services companies, either through on-campus or off-campus recruitment. Unfortunately, they find themselves facing indefinite delays in the onboarding process. Some have not received any communication regarding their joining dates, despite being promised jobs over a year ago. Others are provided with little reassurance as companies repeatedly extend the joining dates every two to three months. A subset of these graduates is compelled to undergo additional training while their offer letters approach expiration, and some, like Gupta, have had their job offers revoked. They are essentially left in limbo within an uncertain tech job market.

The period from 2021 up to September-October 2022 witnessed a surge in hiring by prominent IT firms such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, Tech Mahindra, Cognizant, Accenture, and many others, anticipating substantial growth. However, the current landscape reveals that these companies are now contemplating reducing their intake of fresh graduates due to a weak deal pipeline and lingering concerns about a recession in the United States. Staffing firm TeamLease Digital has projected a 30 percent year-on-year decline in FY24.

Harpreet Singh Saluja, President of the Nascent Information Technology Employees Senate (NITES), reports that the employee union has received complaints of onboarding delays from 20,000-25,000 students in the past two graduating classes. He questions the rationale behind issuing so many offer letters to freshers when business conditions were not conducive.

Colleges claim that some companies have notified them of joining date delays, while others have left them hanging without any clear communication. However, companies offer a different perspective. Girish Nandimath, Global Head of Talent Acquisition & Academic Interface at TCS, states, “TCS has consistently honored every employment offer made and will continue to do so. We have initiated onboarding of trainees starting Q1FY24, with more batches scheduled to join us quarterly.” Harshvendra Soin, Global Chief People Officer and Head of Marketing at Tech Mahindra, mentions that they have already initiated the onboarding process for last year’s campus hires, with joining scheduled in multiple batches. Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, Capgemini, HCL, LTIMindtree, and Mphasis did not respond to BT’s inquiries.

Sangeeta Gupta, Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer at industry body Nasscom, acknowledges that the rapid acceleration in tech spending post-Covid-19 was initially perceived as the new norm. However, the global landscape shifted, revealing an over-hiring trend in the past two years. She anticipates that onboarding delays may be resolved over the next two quarters, as most companies have committed to honoring their offers.

Prominent industry figures, including T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Aarin Capital and former Infosys CFO, argue that companies should onboard fresh graduates and commence training immediately, even if it results in financial setbacks for a few quarters. While acknowledging the business exigency, they believe that companies can retain surplus employees for a brief period until growth rebounds, which is likely to happen sooner or later. Vineet Nayar, Founder Chairman of Sampark Foundation and former CEO of HCL Technologies, emphasizes the importance of onboarding freshers now to earn their trust and respect. Prabir Jha, a veteran CHRO and Founder and CEO of boutique HR firm Prabir Jha People Advisory, contends that companies should have either adhered to onboarding timelines or withdrawn offers, making a difficult but more honest decision.

The $245-billion IT services outsourcing industry, India’s largest white-collar recruiter, has been a remarkable success story for the country. It typically absorbs 20-25 percent of the 1.5 million engineering graduates in India each year. However, this luster is fading among fresh graduates from second-tier colleges, where these industry giants traditionally hire in large numbers.

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