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Education Plus    Kerala   

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Campus recruitment hits new high

Engineering students never had it so good with campus recruitments by major companies becoming popular in Kerala.

Students line up for jobs as companies reach the campus to recruit the best of the lot.

Fuelled by a boom in the IT sector, campuses of major engineering colleges across Kerala have been witnessing a significant upsurge in campus recruitments.

Coming after a slowdown in recent years, the upsurge has been so marked that it has led to an upbeat mood on campuses in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.

Upbeat mood

The students of the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram(CET), who will pass out of the college in July 2005, are a very happy lot. Although only 17 companies turned up for the campus placement programme, as many as 422 students have received job offers. This is almost double the number of students who were similarly selected last year.

As in the previous years, the list of companies that turned up for the campus placement programme reads like a who-is-who of the IT business sector in India. Over the years companies such as IBM, Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) and Infosys seem to have made the CET a must-go recruitment destination.

CTS, which absorbed 60 engineers last year, recruited 123 would-be engineers this year. This is the highest by one company, this year. Infosys was not very far behind, offering placements to 110 students. Wipro, which took in only 10 students last year, offered placements to as many as 68 students this year. Thirty students got placements with IBM.

Good season

A surprising feature of the campus recruitment this year was that many IT companies asked for, and offered jobs to students from the Civil Engineering branch. As many as 43 students from the Civil Engineering branch got selected by various companies this year. In 2004, only six students from this branch had received placements via campus recruitment. The CET has 122 seats for this branch. Students of Mechanical Engineering too had a good season during the campus recruitment this year. In 2004, 37 students had got placements, this year 62 students from this branch were selected by various IT companies. The college has a sanctioned strength of 121 for this branch.

The head of the Career Guidance and Placement Unit (CGPU) of CET, A. Samson, says that this may be because IT companies found that civil and mechanical engineers were as good as their counterparts in the Electronics and Computer Science divisions when it comes to IT-related jobs. "Civil and mechanical engineers need little training to work in the IT sector. The fact that civil and mechanical engineers are less prone to job hopping when compared to a computer science engineer, may also have been a factor in this jump in demand for civil and mechanical engineers," he explains.

However, the fact remains that the `circuit branches' - Electrical, Electronics and Computer Science - remain the much sought-after specialisations by companies that come to CET.

`Tech' companies

There is also the fact that the CET is yet to see much of what are called the `Tech companies' - pure-engineering firms that take in mechanical engineers or civil engineers in large numbers. This year too, no major `techy' turned up for recruitment at the CET. Since no one is sure how long IT firms would keep asking for civil and mechanical engineers, the thin presence of engineering companies on the employer list is proving to be worrisome for the students.

Another phenomenon noticed during the recruitment this year was pertaining to the salaries offered. While most of the companies offered annual salaries ranging from Rs. 1.8 lakhs to 2 lakhs, one company, `Verizon' , offered Rs. 3 lakhs as annual salary. While these figures are more or less the same as those offered last year, Dr. Samson points out that these salaries are substantially less than what the students were offered, say, two years ago.

It has also been noticed over the years that while the engineering firms prefer male candidates, close to 50 per cent (or more) of the students selected by IT firms are women. Of course, this is also due to the fact that there are women in the Electrical, Electronics and Computer Science batches. Most of the companies who come to CET hold aptitude tests, group discussions and personal interviews for selecting candidates.

Things are so upbeat at the CET these days that the CGPU is wondering whether it should at all ask any more companies to come for campus recruitment this year.

Record placement

In Central Kerala, the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) and Model Engineering College (MEC), Thrikkakara, have witnessed a record in campus recruitment this time with over 300 students in both the institutions being placed in leading companies. The achievement is all the more remarkable as all these students will complete their studies in 2005 only. Over 200 students on the main campus of Cochin University and the Cochin University College of Engineering, Pulinkunnu, under Cusat have found a place in the list of students who have been absorbed by leading companies.

The Model Engineering College has become a favourite destination for recruiters in the country. As many as 130 students of the final year batch bagged jobs through campus recruitment. Leading companies that recruited students from Cusat and MEC include Infosys, Wipro, Microsoft, HCL, HP, Verizon, Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) and Siemens.

Sobha Cyrus, Principal of the School of Engineering, Cusat, says that more companies have expressed their interest in conducting campus recruitment in the coming days. "Students enrolled under engineering streams such as Computer Science, Computer Applications, Electronics, Information Technology, Civil and Mechanical had been selected for recruitment by leading companies," says Ms. Cyrus. Wipro, L & T, Verizon and CTS selected 130 students of MEC. Of the 130 students, over 60 belonged to the Electronics and Communication stream and about 45 were from the Computer Science branch. Around 15 students of the Electronics and Biomedical Engineering course have been selected for placements.

The Principal of MEC, Jyothi John, says that the college has bettered its record in campus recruitment this year. "Over 60 per cent of students in the final-year batch have already found jobs in major companies. The college has been able to attract the best of companies in the country to the campus," says Professor John.

Branches preferred

The revival of fortunes in the IT sector is clearly visible with more software companies visiting campuses in Kochi to recruit students. In terms of payment also, software companies are way ahead of the others. Students are offered salaries ranging from Rs.15, 000 to Rs.30, 000 at the entry-level. Leading companies offered an annual pay packet ranging from Rs.2 lakhs to Rs.4 lakhs to the students.

Experts say that apart from IT, the civil and mechanical sectors are also recruiting students these days. The boom in construction activity combined with the emerging trends in the mechanical sector are some of the reasons cited for the increase in number of companies recruiting students specialising in Civil and Mechanical Engineering.

Offers from foreign companies are also on the rise in certain specific areas like Ship Design and Construction. According to Narayanan of the Department of Ship Technology, Cusat, around 30 per cent of the students who passed out from the department over the years have been placed in major companies in the United States, West Asia, Australia and Africa.

Hot favourite

In north Kerala, The National Institute of Technology, Calicut (NIT-C) is a hot-favourite of companies coming down to Kerala for campus recruitment. The placement season of the NIT-C starts in July and will go on till November and may sometimes be extended by a couple of months.

The campus placement is conducted almost continuously at the Institute, points out S.S. Gokhale, Director of NIT-C. "This year the placement is going to be better than last time. It is premature to disclose the statistics of placement of this year at this stage," says T.V. Gopalan, professor and head of Training, Placement and Linkage Department of NIT-C.

High salaries

Last year, three NIT-C students hit the jackpot with the highest offer of Rs 5.5 lakhs made by Trilogy Limited, U.S., a multinational company (MNC). The salary offered on the campus was higher than the `highest' salary of Rs. 4.25 lakhs that was offered the previous year.

A couple of B.Tech. students accepted the second highest offer of Rs. 4 lakhs per annum. "The companies coming in were so many and the students so few that we were forced to refuse some companies," observes Dr. Gopalan.

Most of the companies were IT firms but 35 per cent were from the core sectors. Of 57 students in the Civil Engineering stream, 33 got placements last year. Four students of Civil Engineering and two from the Mechanical Department were absorbed by Larsen and Turbo ECC, with an annual salary package of Rs. 3 lakhs each. The average salary was Rs. 2.5 lakhs and the lowest was Rs. 1.8 lakhs.

Factors that matter

The recruiting companies look for institutes that have high-ranking students. The expertise of the faculty members and infrastructure also matter. "However, the placement cell of even a good institute cannot remain complacent and will have to put in great efforts," observes Dr.Gopalan.

National Institute of Technology-Calicut (NIT-C), which was earlier known as the Regional Engineering College, Kozhikode, became an NIT with deemed university status in 2002.

The placement process became more easy and focussed once the NIT-C started conducting its own examinations. "Now we can assure the companies that the entire results would be published on a particular date itself," Dr. Gopalan says.

"The prosperity witnessed by the IT industry has motivated IT companies to come to the campuses instead of the earlier practice of institutes approaching the companies for campus recruitment," says M. Jayakumar, placement officer of the Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) College of Engineering, Kasaragod.

But experts caution B.Tech. students to be wary of those software companies that offer only call centre-type jobs.

The B.Tech. students would be wasting themselves in a call-centre, they point out. Most of the bright students who had opted for call-centre jobs have now shown a willingness to switch over to other jobs, even less lucrative ones. According to the experts, it is another typical example of under-employment.

Some of the private engineering colleges are now trying to have campus interviews through private recruiting agencies.

One of the trends, perhaps among a few of the B.Tech students, was to go for MBA without joining the bandwagon of students who opt for campus recruitment.

This was owing to the fact that companies now need engineers with managerial skills. "But the sad part of this is that even some brilliant B.Tech. students opt for management education. Earlier, some of the brilliant engineering students went in for M.Tech.," observes a faculty member of an engineering college.

New government engineering colleges that were set up a couple of years ago are also doing their bit to attract companies to their campuses.

They are putting in their best to bring in the best companies to their campuses. Government Engineering College, West Hill, Kozhikode, is now planning to join hands with Government Engineering Colleges in Wayanad and Kannur and conduct combined campus interviews for their students, according to Satheesh Kumar, placement officer of the college.

G. Mahadevan
G. Krishnakumar
J.S. Bablu

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