Despite Increase in Hiring, Companies Offer Internships Over Permanent Roles: How Placement Structure Changed Post-Covid

After facing a dip in the number of placement offers under the impact of Covid, the engineering and management institutes this year are witnessing offers pouring in from old and first-time recruiters that were on a hiring freeze during the pandemic years. As a result, the total number of offers has seen a steep rise. The highest and average salaries have seen a surge too.

While the leading institutes such as IITs and IIMs witnessed a minor downfall during 2020-2021, the students of other institutes — both government and private — faced the heat. Most of the higher educational institutes claim that the placements have improved drastically riding on the hybrid mode of hiring. However, some recruiters are unsure of freshers and are offering internships over full-time roles.

The pandemic slowdown and recovery

The placement and hiring process saw a major slump during the pandemic years. According to job search website’s JobSpeak report, hiring across all vertices saw a 35 per cent fall in 2020 as compared to 2019. The economic slowdown led to cost cutting, deferment in hiring, and pay-cut. As a result, graduating students found fewer and poorer income opportunities.

Campus placements at engineering colleges dropped drastically in the academic year 2020-2021, with only 59,494 students getting jobs out of the 1,02,827 enrolled students. This was the lowest since 2012-13 when only 63,486 candidates were placed, according to data available with the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

The poor show in the hiring process was seen in the management institutes as well. At Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development, Pune, the number of recruiters participating in the placement drive fell by 21.43 per cent in 2020 with a decline in IT and e-commerce hiring.

Apart from this, several students also reported a decline in good opportunities and packages offered.

Shivam Jain, an ex-management student from a leading institute in Pune, shared his placement experience in the pandemic period. “The year 2020 routed the dreams of most graduates like me. Most institutes focused on protecting their brand image and thus placed the maximum number of students in jobs with no concern for their personal interests. My batch was restricted from applying for interviews from quite a number of recruiters that have come to the campus. We were persuaded to take up the first offer from any company even if it was not their choice of firm, function or industry,” Jain explained.

Hiring sees an uptick

However, as the lockdown restrictions were lifted, and the placement season began in 2021, a slow recovery was observed in various industries. As per TeamLease EdTech Career Outlook report, freshers’ hiring intentions increased to 61 per cent in 2022 as employers across India resorted to hiring due to the accelerated rate of tech and digital advancement.

Many institutes improved their hiring numbers with more students being recruited in diverse roles. In the recent summer placement drive conducted by MDI Gurgaon, a total of 292 offers were made in the pandemic year of 2020 which increased to 358 in 2021 and 439 this year. The institute also claims a significant rise in the number of offers made by the Consulting and FMCD/FMCG domains since 2019.

Similarly, at Delhi Technological University (DTU), the number of placement offers increased two fold after the two pandemic years. In 2020, 1,574 offers were made which rose to 1,722 in 2021 and 2,082 this year. The highest salary package offered to DTU students also observed a steep hike. From the highest Rs 1 crore CTC in 2020, the package soared to 1.2 crore this year. The number of offers above Rs 20 lakh also went up from 150 in 2020 to 364 this year.

Hybrid hiring improved placements

The hybrid placement model has enabled talent acquisition teams to hire from across the country as against being restricted to a few physical locations. At GITAM University, Visakhapatnam, hybrid hiring proved to be a boon as the number of its students placed in management and science courses increased during the pandemic years. In GITAM School of Business, 191 students were placed in 2019 which increased to 230 in 2020 and 2021. Similarly, at GITAM School of Science, 119 students were placed in 2019 which increased to 136 in 2020 and 214 in 2021.

An official of GITAM Career and Guidance Centre, said that hybrid hiring has helped students to explore career opportunities and test their potential through online drives as well.

“Many corporate recruiters preferred to hire through online recruitment drives while some preferred to visit the campus. This helped the students to showcase their talent and those students who were not present on campus also were benefited. The hybrid approach brought us renowned recruiters like Ernst and Young, KPMG, and Deloitte which were absent in pre-pandemic years,” he shared.

Neeti Sharma Co-founder of TeamLease edtech also supports the claims. “There is a lot of talent in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and opening hiring opportunities to them has given access to a wider base of candidates for companies. The first few selection processes do get followed online and only once the candidate passes through the screening, the talent acquisition teams meet them. This ensures higher conversion ratios, reduces the cost of travel across locations and brings down the time to hire,” Sharma explained.

Recruiters skeptical to hire, post-Covid

However, in a discouraging trend, companies are pushing candidates for internships rather than offering permanent roles.

Professor Anurag Singh Chauhan, faculty-in-charge of placements at MDI Gurgaon, shared that recruiters, post-Covid, are skeptical to hire freshers as these two-year batches have completed their course mostly through the online mode. “We have seen an increase in the number of internship offers in comparison to full-time jobs as post-Covid, most of the companies are willing to test the candidate’s skills on the job. They are unsure whether the online mode of teaching can produce quality employees for their company,” Chauhan said.

Diwakar Bansal, now placed with a top consulting firm, shared that the companies in the placement drives were interested in offering internships to their entire batch which did not go down well with not just students but even the college faculty.

“Many recruiters offered paid internships with stipends between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. Not just students, even our faculty discouraged it. We were asked to not take up internship offers. Later on, the same company offered job letters to the selected candidates. The recruiters had a preconceived notion about our batch since we graduated through online learning. It was unjust to students like us who had to go the extra mile just to prove our skills with no fault of ours,” Bansal shared.

Demand for trained multitask professionals

Meanwhile, Charu Sharma, head of the placement cell at Jaipuria School of Business, Ghaziabad, said that there is an increase in the demand for trained multitask professionals. “Now employers are looking for incumbents who are not only specialised in a core field but also have skills required to survive in a dynamic business environment. For instance, employers looking for finance professionals not only demand an incumbent to be well-versed with financial statements but also technical skills such as SQL, Python or at least an advanced excel or understanding of VBA,” Sharma shared.

Smriti Shah, a talent acquisition manager with Ernst & Young, agreed with Sharma’s justification that the pandemic did affect the hiring process and shortlisting of students.

“With hybrid hiring came the responsibility of testing the ability of the students. To make the process easy, TAs usually prefer candidates with additional skills and knowledge. It helps in shortlisting the students and any added skill apart from the usual degree is always preferred,” Shah shared.

Courtesy : The Indian Express

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *