While most people enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning with their friends and family on 24th January, a large number of youngsters spent hours wilting under the hot sun, with stars in their eyes, and their future in the resumes they held.
8000 job aspirants lined up in a one km long queue, leading up to the electronic city campus of HCL, one of the biggest IT employers in India, for a walk-in interview scheduled by the company. The number of openings available was 1200.
The barrage of applicants came from the social media ads from the company that were shared on various employment forums. HCL has been engaged in a number of traditional and new-age recruiting drives of late, perhaps proven redundant given the scene at this walk-in drive.
The post on offer — Engineer Trainee — came with an annual package of Rs. 2.75 lakh. The candidates invited were 2014-15 grads of information technology, electrical and electronics engineers, electronic and communication engineers and B.Tech. The interview was scheduled for 10am to 2pm, and when the company saw the queue starting to pile up around 7am, it began the written test at 9am. Around 800 took the test, which is when, around 9.30am, the company took stock of the situation.
Things got quite out of hand soon enough, and unable to accommodate all the waiting applicants, HCL had to finally cancel the walk-in interview altogether. This was not taken well by the applicants who had come from places as far as Jharkand and Uttar Pradesh, and many threw fits and otherwise were vocal about their displeasure. The company’s security personnel and local cops had to intervene to disperse the angry crowds.
“This is not the way to conduct an interview for thousands of unemployed youths who stood there for hours thinking their turn would come in some time. Within two hours the whole crowd was scattered and it was utter chaos when police arrived and asked us to leave as the interview got cancelled.”, said an applicant.
The incident at HCL, unfortunately is not a one off and is largely emblematic of the larger employment problem in India. Hundreds of thousands of graduates come out of engineering colleges every year across India, but only 20% of them are actually employable, according to a recent study.
“Engineering has become the de-facto graduate degree for a large chunk of students today. However, along with improving the education standards, it is quintessential that we evolve our undergraduate programmes to make them more job centric,” says an education industry veteran.
While the future of these applicants hangs in air, the incident should come as a stark wake up call for the status of gaps between engineering education and skills training in the country.