India's private engineering institutes are reporting a 50-70% drop in placements this year as macroeconomic challenges force companies, especially those in the information technology sector, to cut back on hiring.
The slowdown in placements is forcing these institutes to rework their plans, said officials at some of the private engineering institutes ET spoke with.
Santanil Dasgupta, senior director of BML Munjal University's career guidance development centre, said they have adopted a wait-and-watch approach.
Companies are hiring judiciously and the sentiment is low for the fresher recruitment drive, said Dasgupta.
IT service providers - usually the main campus recruiters - had gone heavy on hiring over the last two years expecting good growth. But they are now rethinking their plans amid a slowdown in client spending. Hiring for the other engineering streams is either flat or low.
"Last year, 63% of students had been placed by this time (overall 95%). This year, 20-25% of students have been placed thus far," said Dasgupta. The batch size at the university is 175.
Some other private institutes shared a similar sentiment.
"Hardly 30% of the students have been placed thus far," said Anjani Kumar Bhatnagar, deputy director of placement cell at Amity University. "By this time last year, 60% of the batch had been placed."
Bhatnagar said the university is changing tack.
"We need to target those companies that are niche in nature. Even if they are not niche, these companies need to have their operations in India because these are the companies that are recruiting these days," said Bhatnagar.
The campus placements this year are "not as impressive" as the previous year, said Saravanababu J, senior director of placements at Koneru Lakshamaiah University.
"The IT services companies are not hiring this year. This created a big impact in the placement figures," he said. "Same time last year, we had reached 80% of the campus placements (2023 batch).This year (2024 batch), we have reached 35% in the engineering stream."
The institute has more than 2,000 students in the engineering stream.
At Galgotias University, about 45% of the final year students had been placed by the first week of November last year. This year, it is down to 38% despite campus recruitment beginning a month earlier. The batch size at the university is 2,000.
"Companies are coming this year, but they are picking up fewer students," said Manisha Chaudhry, director of placements at Galgotias University. "For example, an MNC specialising in IT services and consulting hired 120-130 students last year. This time around they hired 30 students."
The Pro VC of Sharda University, Parma Nand, said the industry is cautious in hiring freshers. There's a 5-7% drop in the number of students placed this time of the year as compared with a year ago.
Ajayinder Singh Jawanda, the chief industry engagement officer at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET), said: "Compared with last year, the number of IT companies has been less to start with, as some of the leading recruiters of last year have delayed their hiring by a few months or have declined to come this year."
The placements process at TIET began in the middle of August.
"The numbers hired this year by many are less due to over-hiring last year and economic reasons. Many new companies, especially start-ups, are coming this year," said Jawanda. "Despite the effects of wars and post-pandemic economic upheavals the placements are expected to do well this year, although delayed."
Jawanda said he is cautiously optimistic about the placement scenario in the face of economic headwinds.
Data from other colleges and universities paint an equally gloomy picture for placements in the engineering streams of automobile, aeronautics, biotechnology, biomedical science, electronics and communications, electronics instrumentation and control, and electrical.
Riya Mariam Babu, a mechanical engineering student at Amity, is one of the four in a batch of 35 students who has secured a job. Placements for core engineering courses have only just begun at her university. "The placements tend to pick up during the 8th semester (January) after companies have concluded their recruitment drives at government colleges," she said.