Information technology employees and fresh graduates in Kolkata have started to see salary cuts and employee lay offs.
IT and ITeS companies wanted either experienced personnel or was focused on cost cutting measures. A few of the IT companies have even put their Bengal plans on hold.
Although the financial turmoil has not yet prompted large-scale sackings in Salt Lake's sector V, the IT hub for Kolkata, the general notion is that trainee jobs have dried up.
A slowdown in hiring and pay-hike squeeze had been forecast by the IT industry association, Nasscom, confirming the worst fears of young professionals.
"The attrition rates have come down by at least six to seven per cent in the past few months because of the market condition. This will surely slow down hiring," said Som Mittal, the president of Nasscom.
The industry is working very hard to improve utilisation of resources, which will also have an impact on the need for fresh manpower.
Last year, the manpower growth in IT was around 15 per cent and the headcount had crossed 2 million.
"The average growth in increment, too, will take a hit and come down from last year's 13 to 14 per cent to a single-digit figure," said Sangeeta Gupta, the vice-president of Nasscom.
The situation will compound problems for youngsters either passing out of colleges or planning to switch jobs.
The indefinite postponement of the joining dates of a number of fresh graduates from Jadavpur University and Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur, is another indication of the tough days awaiting job aspirants.
For instance, Wipro Technologies, one of the largest IT companies operating in Kolkata, has asked engineering graduates to join its business process outsourcing (BPO) department instead of joining as project engineers.
As project engineers, the students were supposed to get Rs 2.75-3.25 lakh (Rs 275,000-325,000) a year, while as a BPO employee, this has been reduced to Rs 1.2-1.6 lakh (Rs 120,000-160,000) annually, the students said.
According to a student of JIS Engineering College, Kalyani, the nature of job is that of a "technical helpdesk engineer" instead of "project engineer" as promised earlier.
According to students, the company had given them offer letters to join as project engineers after campus interviews in 2007. They were promised jobs in February 2009 after they passed out of college.
Wipro Technologies vice-president Pradeep Bahirwani clarified, "We are providing the students an option of a role in our BPO division, so that the engineering graduates commence work without delay. The technical support division will join with the same package that was mentioned in the original offer letter. "
Most companies operating in Kolkata are small and medium-size enterprises with less than 1,000 employees.
The city has only six big names in the IT arena at present - TCS, Wipro, IBM, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra and HSBC Electronic Data Processing (the back office arm of HSBC Bank).
TCS, IBM and Cognizant together account for more than 70 per cent of Kolkata's software exports.
According to Kalyan Kar, MD, Acclaris, one of the fastest growing mid-sized companies in Kolkata, increasing cost pressure will force companies to devise measures to deliver more with less people.
On the other hand, Satyam Computer Services, India's fourth largest software exporter, has categorically ruled out any investment in Kolkata till the government provides 'adequate' land to set up an IT SEZ.
In 2005, Satyam was allotted a 2.77 acre plot at the IT hub in Salt Lake for setting up a software development centre.
According to B Ramalinga Raju, chairman of Satyam, "We need additional land up to 25 acres so we can make it into an SEZ. We are waiting for the Bengal government to give us the additional land. We need to have an HR training centre and administrative building and so the additional land is a must."
On the government's part, Bengal IT minister Debesh Das, claimed, "Next month we will hand over 90 acres each to Infosys and Wipro at Kolkata IT Links. We are also trying to get 25 acre for Satyam at this facility or near the neighbouring Jagdishpur mouja."