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How Global Layoffs is hitting IIT Placements? Start-Ups pulling out

IIT Graduates
IIT Graduates

Amid global layoffs by tech giants, faculty and students at premier technology and management schools — Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) — in the country are hopeful that placements this year will see a “good” number.

There are serious concerns, even in India, over the global layoffs announced by behemoths Google, Amazon, Meta, Twitter and Disney, with many start-ups and new-age companies keeping out of the first phase of the placement season, which is set to start from December 1.

Faculty members across these institutes said even though there are concerns, a good number of students have already landed pre-placement offers (PPOs) based on their summer internships, and the regular tech companies are still registering with them. It’s mainly the new start-ups and other such companies have so far kept away this year.

Many IITs including those in Madras, Guwahati, Kanpur, Delhi, Mandi and Roorkee have seen a good number, with some even registering an increase in the PPOs being received by its final year batches.

Prof Kaushik Pal, in-charge (Placements), IIT-Roorkee, said the institute has a variety of leading stable companies hire from it, which are not prone to dwindling under the tension of low market scenario. “In spite of the hiring freeze in some major companies, we look forward to a good placement season, with participation from both new and upcoming companies as well as established recruiters. The increasing trend in a number of companies is seen this year too,” he said.

“With a distinctive hike in the number of pre-placements offers as compared to earlier years, most of our students who secured an internship from top-notch companies last year have secured a pre-placement offer. This year too, our strategy is to focus on companies with a strong presence in the global market which can withstand in the current economy situation,” he added.

At the same time, faculty members at IIT-Mandi, one of the newer IITs, said that the All-IITs Placement Committee (AIPC), which has faculty members who coordinate the placement and internship process at the 23 IITs across the country, have been discussing the issue that may affect students this year.

“What is being seen this season is that even if the number of companies coming down is more, the start-up companies, which used to participate enormously till last year, have not come. We have taken both psychological and academic measures to address the situation — we have set up counselling sessions for students to not get bogged down by the global scenario while, academically, students can defer placements by a year and meanwhile work on their own start-ups for which they will continue to get credits, and they can apply for placements again next year,” said prof Tushar Jain, faculty advisor, career and placement cell, IIT-Mandi, which doesn’t necessarily stick to the December-May placement cycle.

Jain further said though the academic measure is new, it was introduced before the layoffs started, and has eventually fallen in place at this time. Also, the institute this year saw a spike in the number of PPOs with 69 such offers (till November 16) being made to students as compared to 56 in the last academic session, 40 in 2020-21 and 34 in 2019-20.

“During the ongoing academic year, software analyst and data science sectors accounted for most of the PPOs till date,” said Jain.

IIT-Guwahati saw more than 21% increase in the PPOs in the ongoing academic session. The institute has already received a total of 218 (till November 14) such offers this year against the 179 offers during entire 2021-22, a statement by the institute said.

“Every year, 350-400 companies come down on campus during the placement season, which starts from December and goes on till May. A large chunk of this is tech firms. We will know how many companies are coming in only a week after the placements start. But, this year, many students have already bagged PPOs,” said a senior faculty member, closely associated with student placements at IIT- Kanpur, who didn’t wish to be named.

Another faculty member from the institute, however, said there’s some panic among students, as companies, which were supposed to come for hiring have reportedly cancelled at the last moment. “Anecdotally, students have been a little worried about the placement offers this season, as the global layoffs and talks of recession in the west are gradually emerging as concerns with many of their operations in India being affected. Some companies may have opted out this year or are probably watching the scenario at first,” said a second faculty member at IIT-Kanpur, requesting anonymity.

Anishya O Madan, head, office of career services (OCS), IIT-Delhi, said, “At this moment, it’s too early to tell how the placement season will pan out even as many students have got PPOs across sectors. The face-to-face recruitment processes for full-time hires will commence on December 1 and will go on until the end of May 2023.”

But faculty members at the IITs also said while the increasing trend in the number of PPOs is good, which happened because of strong internship programmes being conducted, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these are the final job offers that students might be looking at, as they still may want to look for better options when a bulk of companies come down to campus.

The scenario is, however, different for the IIMs, which are more for managerial and product development roles. “The situation is not worrisome for the IIMs so far, as the layoffs have mostly been in the over-bloated tech sector. At IIMs, the recruitments are much more diversified,” said a faculty member at IIM-Bengaluru who didn’t wish to be named.