Top tech firms pay pittance to fresh grads
City: 
Entry-level salary package is a measly `1.8 lakh per year

Tech firms are offering pittance to fresh graduates this year. Close to 90 per cent of new tech recruits have been offered annual salaries in the range of Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, while a very minuscule percentage of premium school grads get a more decent package of Rs 5 lakh and upwards.

This isn’t much different from what employers paid some 15 years ago (2003-04). Tech players paid an average annual salary of Rs 3.5 lakh to freshers and sadly that figure hasn’t changed since then despite higher inflation, say tech hirers.

The large supply of candidates that exceeds the demand is a ruse cited by IT companies to offer such a woefully inadequate remuneration to their recruits.

“It is unfair for the industry, especially tech bellwethers, to let the talent down by paying them too low salaries. They pay 15-year-old entry level salaries even today. Inflation is a huge component and that has been grossly overlooked. This amounts to sheer exploitation and violation of labour rules,’’ said BS Murthy, a leadership recruiter based in Bangalore.

Echoing his sentiment, Karthik Padmanabhan, a recruiter from Chennai, said: “Tech jobs are few and far between. Graduates are eager to secure a job and they are willing to accept even if the salary is Rs 10,000 or Rs 12,000 a month. A large number of IT companies hire fresh non-IT graduates for as low as Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 a month, completely violating the National Minimum Wage Act which insists a minimum wage of Rs 15,000 per month.’’
Manish Sabhrawal, co-founder and executive chairman of staffing firm TeamLease, however, said: “The next 15 years are going to be different from the last 15 years. This wage stagnation is purely a demand-supply issue. The IT industry recruited 3 lakh people from 5 lakh engineers 15 years ago. Today, they recruit the same number from 14 lakh engineers. But the number of engineering seats will soon be reduced to 10 lakh. Also, multinational captive centres and product companies are expanding rapidly and every company is now a technology company. So, the next 15 years will be different from the last 15 years.’’

It’s not fair to put the entire blame on tech enterprises for the poor salary scenario, said Lathika Pai, a serial entrepreneur, technology mentor and founder of women startup platform, SonderConnect. “The onus has to be on our education system. I’ve worked with over 600 colleges in the country in the last few years. Most of them are focussed on offering students a degree and not teaching them skills. Not many colleges are willing to change this path and for the last 20 years they follow the same syllabus. Therefore, a majority of fresh grads require thorough training and companies spend millions in training. So probably the inflation element and the investment required in training etc are built into the salary that is being offered.’’