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Are IT companies hiring fresher’s in Covid-19 times?

Following the loss of jobs and freeze in recruitment in 2020, the beginning of 2021 saw companies back to hiring, with IT companies contributing to a major share of the hiring spree. As per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), however, those under the age of 40 have reported the highest job losses compared to older employees. With another school year ending, more freshers will be entering the workforce, adding to those who graduated during the 2020 lockdown. So how has the second wave impacted the IT job market, especially for freshers?

Current outlook of the job market:

By the end of April 2021, major IT companies including TCS, HCL, Accenture, Infosys, Dell, and Wipro had already made recruitment announcements. As per Naukri’s JobSpeak Report for April 2021, the IT and software sector has been among the few sectors to drive hiring growth in the past few months, despite a drop of -12% in sequential hiring compared to March 2021. Like 2020, the sector has continued to be shielded from the impacts of Covid-19 and has continued to fare better than other sectors, in terms of both retaining and hiring new employees. The sector has in fact seen a year-on-year growth of 214% in hiring trends as per the same report.

Where do freshers stand?

While the IT sector is still hiring, the second wave of Covid-19 which brought about a stagnated, state-wise lockdown in April 2021, resulted in a drop in hiring compared to March 2021. Freshers or those in the experience band of 0 to 3 years were hit the most by this, with a 19% drop in hiring of that experience band in April compared to March 2021. With the vaccine rollout being extended to include those in the 18 to 44 years age bracket in May 2021, and as new Covid-19 cases continue to drop, there could be a resurgence in hiring, as was witnessed in January 2021, when 12 million were employed, around the same time that India began its vaccination program and companies began to unfreeze hiring.

Are IT companies still hiring freshers?

The lack of on-the-job experience and even transferrable skills, like good communication and teamwork, puts freshers at a slight disadvantage compared to their slightly experienced seniors, especially in the current lockdown period that hits the cash inflows of companies. However, this might also work to freshers’ advantage as companies might want to hire more employees in the lower salary bracket and invest in training them. Freshers who show an aptitude for continuous learning either through college projects or internship programs or those who can show time well-spent through undertaking career training programs will fare better in landing jobs.

What can freshers do in a shrinking hiring market?

Fresher graduates in both engineering and non-engineering backgrounds will need to continue upskilling in the lag time between their graduation and hiring. Looking at the past year’s market performance, IT and software remain among the best careers to pursue after graduation. A search of skill trends reports by major job portals will allow freshers to take stock of what skills they can improve on. For example, Azure and AWS are among the most in-demand IT platform skills, while Python, Java and CSS continue to be the top-demand skill from IT recruiters. With the coronavirus still bringing cities and rural areas to a standstill, periodically, freshers would be better off spending their time pursuing short-term courses to get a job, such HCL First Careers that is a paid job training program that places freshers in the company after successful completion of the course.

The hiring spree in the IT sector has been possible due to revenue growth, so any freeze in hiring might be temporary due to the current lockdown as companies take stock of the situation. Resumption activities are predicted to happen faster compared to 2020, as there was no full lockdown this year. However, like the lockdown, economic activities will resume in a staggered manner, and so a full-fledged hiring spree is less likely to happen as soon as the current batch of freshers enter the workforce.

It is important that freshers do everything they can to make the most of any downtime. “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo.

Subbaraman Balasubramanyan
about author

Subbaraman Balasubramanyan has global IT business experience spanning over 25 Years. He is currently Vice President, HCL Technologies and Chairperson of CII Madurai Zone. A member of CEOs Club at HCL Technologies, Subba (as he is popularly known as) has a track record of driving high revenue businesses successfully and is leading HCL skilling business. He may be reached at Subbaraman Balasubramanyan

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