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Wednesday, Apr 10, 2002

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IT is still highway as far as jobs go

Vipin V. Nair

NEW DELHI, April 9

THE last fiscal may have been a year of pay-cuts and pink slips for the information technology industry, but even during this tough time, the sector generated nearly a lakh of new jobs.

As per the figures provided by National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom), the IT industry added about 94,000 people in 2001-02, a majority of them in the booming IT-enabled services (ITES).

However, when compared with the previous year, the recruits were down by about 32 per cent from 1.40 lakh as the industry adopted a cautious approach towards hiring in a slowdown. During the year software exports segment added 18,000 people to take the total number of professionals to 1.80 lakh, while the ITES sector gave employment to about 36,000 people. Total number of people working in ITES companies in the country stood at about 1.10 lakh by the year-end.

"Although the software exports sector added only 11 per cent more people in the year, its turnover grew by over 30 per cent. This shows that the industry has been able to achieve improved productivity and better bench management,'' said Mr Sunil Mehta, Vice-President of Nasscom.

"Companies have clearly managed their existing resources well during the year. Earlier, they just used to add people rather than focus on improving yields,'' Mr Mehta told Business Line.

The domestic software sector - mainly user organisations - has added about 40,000 people during the year. Companies such as HLL, ONGC and LIC added more people in their IT departments as they continued to invest more in IT.

"Corporations like LIC have been investing heavily in IT in the past 18 months. E-governance is another area which is driving the recruitment in the domestic IT market,'' Mr Mehta said.

He said Nasscom collated the employment figures by doing a dip-stick survey of about 35 companies in the software exports sector.

For the domestic segment, the association garnered the numbers from user organisations as well as training institutes such as NIIT and Aptech.

"Then we cross-checked with the number of servers sold in the country in the year, which stood at 55,000 units. Usually a server to manpower ratio is 1:1.5,'' Mr Mehta said, adding that of the new server additions, some may be replacements.

The watchful approach of companies towards hiring is likely to continue in the current year as well since the pressure on billing rates still continues.

"The billing rates have more or less stabilised, but there is no upswing visible,'' Mr Mehta said. This would also mean that salaries of software professionals would not tend to skyrocket again. "Salaries are now being linked to performance of the individual and that of the companies. This trend will continue this year too,'' he said.

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