When you join a premium institute in the country, there are big hopes that you will get the best training and will eventually be placed in one of the best companies with a great salary package. The recent scenario of placements on campuses is quite alarming. Recently, IIM Calcutta reached out to its alumni to provide job opportunities and internship facilities for its students. A prestigious institution reaching out to its alumni to get placements for its students is an indication of the downtrend of placements in the country. Sumit Kumar, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship, explains what led to this trend in the job market. Kumar has more than two decades of experience in the hiring industry and is an alumnus of IIM-A.

Edited excerpts from the interview:


IIM-C has recently reached out to its alumni, asking for placement or internship opportunities for its students. Is this an indication of the placements situation currently?

It is sad to see that an institute like IIM-C has to reach out to its alumni to get opportunities for its students. However, I believe that this is the right attitude any institution should take in such situations. Though there are a lack of opportunities, all institutes should equip their students to be industry-ready through internships and apprenticeships. Instead of being disappointed, institutions should take such measures in these times.


What are the specific reasons for this downtrend?

The macroeconomic situation in the country is quite weak. Along with that, the global slowdown has also impacted hiring across sectors. Though there is a downtrend, we are still receiving a good amount of foreign investment, specifically in the automobile industry, banking and financial services sectors. Students can also think of seeking alternative career options in sectors that continue to receive good investments and hone their skill sets accordingly.


Which are the most affected sectors and which are the industries that continue to hire?

The IT sector is definitely the most affected. The telecom industry, retail industry and BFSI sectors continue to hire.


Is this lack of placements due to a mismatch in what industry is looking for and what colleges are teaching?

There is no doubt that the skills required in the job market and how students are trained are not on the same line. There are many reports that suggest the same; even the World Bank’s learning gap report confirms this. It is slowly getting better as institutions are now focusing on internships and also equally focusing on blended learning. Programmes are now curated by keeping industries in mind. A clear balance of academia and industry exposure can make a lot of difference.


How long is this downward trend likely to remain?

This is just yet another phase and it is cyclical. It is sad that this is happening frequently. At this juncture, students should focus more on improving their skill sets that can be applicable across all sectors.


What is the situation of hiring in start-ups?

Many IT companies have stopped hiring. However, start-ups are still hiring talents. But most students are not keen on joining start-ups due to stability concerns. I would still urge youngsters to join start-ups. The exposure that you get while working in a start-up is tremendous that too at the early stage of your career. It can let an employee understand what are the expectations from an employer and how to get it done quickly.


Do you think AI and other technological innovations have led to this downtrend in hiring?

I don’t think AI will take away jobs from employees. However, it will create new types of jobs. It is predicted that by 2025, most organisations will be using AI in some form. Freshers should focus on improving their transversal skills. At the end of the day, it is all employability and what can you bring to the table. Technology will keep changing and our job will also have to be in tune with it. Hence, employees should focus on upskilling themselves.