Saturday, 1 September 2007

UK graduates to India

Back in the 70s and 80s, UK IT companies (that's when we had a UK-owned technology industry) used to go on the Milk Round each year attracting newcomers to their Graduate recruitment Programmes. Hundreds would join the main firms each year and go through an extensive induction programme lasting many months.

Post 2000, it was difficult to find any UK-based (let alone UK-owned) tech company that recruited or trained graduates. Applications for Computer Sciences degree courses slumped because it was not seen as a route to a decent job anymore. Hence the skill gap for people with 5-10 years experience that the industry currently suffers.

Last year, I lamblasted several leading UK IT companies for this short-sighted policy. One of these was the then CEO of Xansa - Alastair Cox. I remember him rising to his feet at a meeting saying that it was untrue - Xansa did recruit graduates. It was only after further questioning from me that he admitted that they were Indan graduates in India...not UK graduates in the UK!

Anyway, now we have the next twist in the tale. Infosys has just dispatched its first wave of 25 UK graduates for training in Mysore. As you can read in the FT article below.

I wasn't quite so fast on my feet a few weeks back when a member of the audience told me that I should be rejoicing because the number of Science graduates joining UK universities this year had increased for the first time since 2000. At first I welcomed that news. Then, after studying the figures in more detail, I found that the only reason for the increase was foreign students coming to the UK to study these subjects! Of course, that is to be welcomed too but it hardly shows that we turned the corner in making science more attractive to our own young people.

Infosys graduate trainees in Indian first
By Joe Leahy in Mumbai
FINANCIAL TIMES: August 30 2007

Infosys Technologies will on Friday dispatch its first group of UK graduate trainees to India for a six-month induction course as part of efforts by the country’s outsourcing companies to make their workforce more global.
The 25 trainees, each of whom has been issued with a copy of the Lonely Planet guide to
India to help them orientate themselves in their new home, were hired from 12 UK universities as part of the programme, which follows a similar scheme in place for US graduates.
“We need to be able to get under the skin of our clients’ businesses and we think this programme will help us do that,” BG Srinivas, senior vice-president and head of Europe for Infosys, India’s second-largest information technology company, said.
The launch of the pilot scheme comes as Indian companies are looking to do more “insourcing” – recruiting locally in target markets to enable them to compete more effectively with the large, entrenched western global outsourcing majors.
Indian outsourcing companies have become expert at hiring armies of recruits at home but they need more people with a sophisticated understanding of the local culture and ways of business in their target markets.

Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest computer services company, is also hiring foreign graduates and conducting internships for overseas students. Its non-Indian employees account for about 9.6 per cent of total staff while Infosys’s non-Indian staff is about 3 per cent.

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