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Manpower mantra in Saltlec surge

Forget hundreds, it’s time to talk in terms of thousands. The new manpower mantra at the Salt Lake Electronics Complex (Saltlec) is the surest sign of companies here hitting a higher growth trajectory. With IT spending on the up in the West, knowledge-based companies are ramping up their human resources and creating new facilities.

“The trend is a confluence of signs of recovery in the US economy and a change in perception about Bengal,” observed Nasscom chief Kiran Karnik. “We have always maintained that Calcutta has the potential to grow faster.”

The expansion encompasses the big and the not-so-big players. “We are adding more than 300 people in the next two months. By the end of 2004, we will have more than 2,000 people with us,” said D.K. Chaudhuri, chief executive officer, Skytech Solutions. The company, with offices in London, New York, Chicago and Mumbai, has around 350 people on its present roster.

The company, a 50:50 joint venture between United Airlines and The Chatterjee Group, has already booked space in the upcoming 75,000 sq ft facility at Bengal Intelligent Park.

“We have set a target of 100 per cent growth in revenue, with acquisition of clients in new markets like China, where we are involved in airport projects,” said Chaudhuri.

Skytech is also setting up a development centre in South India and plotting acquisitions.

IBM, which gave a big push to the depressed job market around six months ago after acquiring a part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, is maintaining the momentum. Millennium Park, its seven-storey new facility in Saltlec, will be up in the next six months and, according to IBM sources, 600 more people will be added to take the headcount near 2,000 within the same time-frame. “Right now, we are assessing the manpower requirement for the next year,” said an IBM spokesperson in Calcutta.

TCS, which has announced its plans to take its total strength to 28,000 by 2004, is another major driver in the job market.

“The work on our second facility in Saltlec has already started,” said a TCS spokesperson. Sources indicated an addition of 1,000 people in the city office to the existing strength of around 2,200, in a year.

The job boom is fine, but finding people and retaining them is easier said than done. The past few months have seen a dramatic rise in poaching in Saltlec and almost all companies have been hit by the sudden rise in attrition, touching around 15 per cent.

“There must be a sincere effort to take in fresh talents and deploy them after necessary training,” observed Siddhartha Mukherjee, vice-president, CTS, which is adding around 60 to 65 people every month and in another 60 days, should have around 1,000 people in its Calcutta office.

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