Is it worthwhile to hire non-techies for techies' work?

By Sikta Samantaray   |   Wednesday, 28 April 2010, 09:31 Hrs
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Is it worthwhile to hire non-techies for techies' work?
Bangalore: With the new trend being set up by IT firms to hire non-techies to do techies' work, it seems that working hard at engineering colleges for 3-4 years to enter this field is worthless. In the last few months, it is noticed that many of the Indian IT companies such as TCS, Wipro and Infosys are turning towards non engineering graduates for the same work that engineering graduates have been doing for long.

For instance, Nandini Sahay is currently working in one of the Indian IT firms as a Software Engineer after completing her BA degree in History and one year certificate course in computer programming. It might be a dream comes true for this village girl Nandini, whose parents feed their stomachs by earning from agriculture field in the remote area of Andhra Pradesh, but at the same time, these IT firms need to think of those millions of engineering graduates, who have worked hard for 3-4 years to enter this field, are sitting idle to get better opportunities. One of the many students, who are feeling the heat of this new trend, is Gaurav Jain, B.Tech/B.E. student at Malviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He said, "If it is possible to train one person in just six months or one year then why engineers are taught for four years?"

So the big question - will these hiring of non-techies affect the quality of work? Mahalakshmi Subramanium, QA/QC Manager, Genpact said, "I think yes. It will affect the quality. Normally an IT graduate undergoes 3-4 years of training to become a professional. If that education is given to a non-IT graduate in just one year or six months, it's obvious that they won't be taught everything due to which their basics won't be strong and they won't be able to perform as nicely as a properly trained IT graduate can do. Even with techies, project success rate is less than 25 percent. With non techies, they are intending to smash it to zero."

But all these firms who are hiring these non-techies believe that quality of the work will not be affected by hiring non-engineering graduates, as these non-techies are being hired for testing software applications and managing computer infrastructure, in order to do more with fewer staff and at lower wages than computer engineers.

It is believed that from nearly 10 percent of their current workforce, non-engineering graduates could account for nearly 20-25 percent of the staff at companies such as TCS, Wipro and HCL, over the next one to two years. The IT company like Cognizant already has almost 20 percent of its global workforce who are non-engineering graduates. Speaking on this issue, Amitava Roy, Chief Operating Officer, Symphony Services said, "Hiring non-techies might work for some of the IT companies, but as far as Symphony Services is concerned; our work requires the expertise and knowledge of technical engineers. Candidates from non engineering background do not fit into our framework of expertise required and hence the hiring model." Even Srini Rajam, Chairman and CEO, Ittiam Systems agrees with Roy and said, "It's not right way to build any company. One company gains more value by differentiation of knowledge come from competition."

Some of the experts feel that basically this step is being taken by companies to cut the costs and increase the employment across the country. Normally, an Indian IT firm pays 2-4 lakh per annum to an engineering graduate, but when they hire any non-engineering graduate, they just pay 80,000 - 1,50,000. Nandini has got the package of 90,000 per annum. One of the officials of an IT major said, "It's not everything about cutting cost. In the last few years, skill mix has changed because of a fundamental shift in sourcing behaviour - customers sourcing a broader range of services, including BPO/KPO. So, we hire according to that need."

Now, it is to be seen that these IT firms understand the real value of an engineering graduate or keep hiring non-techies in near future also, as it is possible for only these IT biggies to train non-techies to do techies' work, not the smaller firms.

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