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Job boom back at tech firms

The worst is over. Push back pink slips, it’s appointment-letter time again at the Salt Lake Electronics Complex (Saltlec). The click is clearly on the comeback button as tech firms are out shopping for skills after a lengthy lay-off.

“There is always a time lag of six to nine months between clients showing interest and the contract being signed. But the good news for the industry is that interest is back. So, by the end of this fiscal, we will add over 1,800 people to our rolls,” said Atul Takle, vice-president, corporate communication, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

Responding to an impending growth of business opportunities, the technology behemoth has drawn up plans to recruit “over 6,000 people” in the next two years. Though declining to comment on the exact number of people to be placed in the Calcutta office, he said “the allocation will be in line with the demand in various projects across TCS’ development centres in the country”.

It’s not just TCS. Almost all major IT companies based in Sector V of Salt Lake are on a recruitment overdrive. This signals celebration time for Saltlec, gripped by a pink-slip scare for months, with hundreds of young software professionals being benched and several others being slapped with pay-cuts.

IBM Global Services is also working on its manpower requirement for a development centre in the city. Following its worldwide takeover of the consulting outfit of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the company already employs over 450 techhies in Calcutta.

Bob Dandeck, country manager, human resources, IBM India, confirmed on Monday that the current recruitment is driven by business needs. “Recognising the potential of Indian IT talent and delivery, IBM has made significant investments in the country to leverage the Indian talent pool and use IBM expertise in the field of R&D, quality and cost-effective solutions,” he said.

This time round, though, “caution” seems to be the catchword for expansion. “There are signs of recovery, but a clear picture will only emerge after six months,” said Roopen Roy, managing partner, PwC.

After a lull of a year and a half, the company has decided to sign on around 200 personnel in the next three to four months for its Saltlec office. Though PwC will not abandon its tradition of campus recruitment, the focus this quarter will be on “lateral entries” for people with industry exposure.

For Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS), the expansion drive has been on for the past two quarters, during which 1,700 employees have been added. Siddhartha Mukherjee, vice-president and head of Calcutta operations, CTS, put this down to “buoyancy” in business.

“During the quarter ended September 2002, we accelerated our hiring plans in response to the strong demand for off-shore outsourcing,” said Mukherjee.

Though no specific numbers are being touted, the CTS top brass is confident of carrying on with its “need-based” hunt, in view of the “significantly” higher volume of business. Besides sticking to its core area of software services, the company will kick off business process outsourcing (BPO) for its clients from early next year.

Skytech Solutions, a joint venture between The Chatterjee Group and United Airlines, employing over 200 people here, is also bullish about headcount. A Skytech spokesperson said on Monday that the firm has decided to increase the workforce by “20 to 25 per cent” in the next two months. “The companies in US are on a cost-cutting spree and so, off-shore business is surely on the rise,” he added.

With more projects flowing into Saltlec and companies gearing up to grow by the month, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government’s Vision 2010 may no longer appear a distant dream. If things go by the chief minister’s wishlist, West Bengal will account for 15 to 20 per cent of the country’s IT revenues by 2010, against the present share of around four per cent.

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