'Companies are coming to the campuses, and we have companies booking their slots for the placement season, but the overall number of companies signing is low, and the hiring numbers are also lower.'
The macroeconomic uncertainty impacting the Indian information technology services industry has also affected campus placement seasons.
Many institutes say that although firms are coming to the campuses, no one is making a hiring commitment.
Adding to this, several institutes that Business Standard spoke to confirmed that India's second-largest IT services firms, Infosys and Wipro, have not yet approached them for placements.
This will be the second year that both players will miss the placement season.
Among the IT players that campuses are confident of visiting this season is only Tata Consultancy Services, as the company announced its hiring target of 40,000 for 2023-2024.
"Infosys did not come to campus last year, and we have little hope that they will come this year too. We have not received any confirmation from them," said the dean of a well-known engineering institute.
An e-mail sent to Infosys remained unanswered until the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Wipro said in an e-mail response: "Attrition rates have come down, creating an opportunity to groom and deploy internal talent where most needed.
"The race to hire ahead of demand has been replaced by a more measured approach considering declining attrition rates and the ongoing economic uncertainty."
Many institutes believe that the placement season this year will be a subdued affair.
"We believe that the total number of hirings will be 40 per cent less than what happened in the current cohort (AY2023) and last year (AY2022)," said a dean of placement at a reputed engineering college in South India.
This institute has already placed 800 students for internships, but these are from companies other than the IT sector; so far, not a single offer has come from any IT companies for final placement.
Indian IT services fresher hiring and onboarding typically happen over 18 months.
Companies visit campuses between July/August-September of a year and give offers to students who join the following year, and onboarding goes on until December.
While 70-80 per cent of hiring demand is met through on-campus hiring, the rest and the unplanned demand are covered off-campus.
After global uncertainty, off-campus hiring for 2022 and 2023 has been very subdued.
"Companies are coming to the campuses, and we have companies booking their slots for the placement season, but the overall number of companies signing is low, and the hiring numbers are also lower," said another senior placement officer.
Another senior placement head from an engineering institute in East India said that while many companies are coming to campus, no one has decided on the actual numbers they want to hire.
"We are assuming that hiring will be pushed to the off-campus period this year. We are also hearing from companies that they will go for placement a little later in the year," said the placement head of a college.
The other reason for the slow hiring in general on campuses is that many are yet to onboard freshers who were given offer letters in 2022.
Because of these delays, many institutes expect the hiring process to last until the February-March time frame.
With attrition coming down for the first quarter of FY24, many were hoping that companies would look at hiring again, but for all the top IT players, this quarter has seen a headcount fall.
Infosys has not yet shared its employee addition targets for FY24. The company saw a net decline in headcount for Q1FY24 at 6,940.
During a media briefing, the company said, "We still have a target for recruiting for the year, but we will see how that plays out with respect to the changes in terms of the demand environment and what we do in terms of the attrition numbers that we are seeing."
Wipro had a net decline of 8,812 people in Q1FY24. This is the third consecutive quarter of declining headcount.
In the case of HCLTech, Q1FY24 saw a net decline of 2,506 employees.
TCS' addition of employees in Q1FY24 was a mere 523; this is the lowest Q1 hiring quarter witnessed in four years.
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Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com