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Old-school Careers Turn Hip as Layoff Fears Rise in IT Sector

Published: 15th February 2015 05:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2015 05:57 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: Geetu Elizabeth from Koothattukulam in Ernakulam district was upbeat when she landed a job at IT biggie Accenture’s Chennai centre immediately after completing her B.Tech. But the punishing work schedule, staying away from parents/home and fears about job stability forced her to chuck the job and prepare for a bank test.

Working at the branch of a leading public sector bank near her home, Geetu is happy how things have turned out. She’s not alone. Several of her college mates and friends too have quit their jobs at IT firms such as Infosys in Bengaluru in search of stable bank jobs.

“There is also parental pressure to look for conservative and stable jobs at nationalised banks where the postings are nearer home,” she said.

Many parents also want their children to prepare for jobs at insurance companies, government departments and in educational institutions. Adding to the lure of the “old-fashioned careers” are the recent news reports about layoffs in major IT companies such as TCS and IBM.

Madhu, a software professional working at Infopark, Kochi, pointed out that the growth prospects in the IT sector are bleak once you are past 40 years.

“This year the annual hike in most IT firms averaged around eight per cent. There is also the fear of pinkslips,” he said. In comparison, the employees at state-run insurance companies are expecting a 20 per cent hike in the latest wage revision, which if implemented, will come with retrospective effect from August 2012.

The wage revision is done every five years in both PSU banks and in the insurance sector. Plus, there are handsome post-retirement benefits such as monthly pensions (Rs 20,000-25,000) and a hefty packet of Rs 20 lakh at the time of retirement, for the employees of state-run banks’ and insurers.

PSU banks employees are hoping for a decent hike after their unions rejected a 13 per cent hike offered by the managements represented by the Indian Banks Association. 

The best of the lot are college lecturers, whose starting salary at Rs 40,000 per month is much higher than that in the IT sector. 

“If you look at the salary scale, the college lecturers/professors are placed at a higher level. This is how it should be, considering that they shape future generations,” said E D Sebastian, an executive member of the Retired College Teachers Association (Kerala). The pension for a college professor will be about Rs 44,000 and the retirement benefits (including PF etc) would be about Rs 35-37 lakh.

The starting salaries in the IT sector may be higher than those in the banking/insurance sectors, but over a period of time the gap narrows.“There are no job security, and post-retirement benefits are as good as zero in the private sector,” Madhu, who’s a mid-level IT employee.In contrast, the jobs at state-run banks, insurance and schools/colleges are safe till retirement (56 years for college/school teachers, 60 for bank/insurance employees).School and college teachers also enjoy more holidays than am IT employee, for whom working at odd hours is the norm rather than an exception.

There are big vacancies coming up in the banking sector and at the college level following the retirement of a large number of people who entered the service back in the early 1980s. “At colleges, most vacancies have been filled over the past two-three years, but I reckon there will still be vacancies till 2017,” Sebastian said.

P P Mohanan, Kerala State General Insurance Retirees Association, said the retirement benefits for insurance employees might also be linked to future wage revisions, boosting job prospects with the public sector insurers.  However, compared to the banking sector, vacancies are much lower here.

A primary school teacher starts with a pay scale of Rs 13,210-22,360, which rises to the Rs 18,240-33,680 scale at the headmaster level (over a 27-year period), said Kerala State Teachers Association former general secretary M Shahjahan.In highschool, the starting salary is Rs 15,380-25,090 which increases to Rs 20,740-36,140 at the headmaster level. In higher secondary schools, the starting scale is Rs 16,980-31,360, which reaches Rs 20,740-36,140 after eight years.

“There is a shift to old-school careers. But we feel it’s a short-term trend, which will vanish once the vacancies get filled,” said Robi Mathew of Shreds Kerala, a recruitment firm.

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