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Job seekers fill up forms as others line up for registration during a job fair in Chinchwad
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PLAYING IT SAFE

Not even one in 10 Indian techies wants to work at a startup

By Ananya Bhattacharya

India prides itself on being the world’s third-largest startup ecosystem after the US and the UK. But the country’s techies, it seems, aren’t really sold to the idea.

Fewer than 10% of Indian engineers want to work at startups, according to an employability report by the Mumbai-based pre-employment assessment firm Aspiring Minds. The report is based on a survey of over 170,000 engineers who graduated in 2018 from over 750 colleges in India.

Big corporations “have a pull factor due to their brand value and their portfolio of projects makes them sought-after organisations to work for,” Sumit Kumar, vice-president at TeamLease Skills University in Gujarat, told Quartz.

At established organisations, job roles are well-defined and they tend to offer “higher job security and remuneration,” said Neha Kaul, head of brand and growth marketing at recruitment portal Shine.com.

While Indian startups have made headlines for offering eye-popping salaries in recent years, that trend is limited to top-level talent. For entry-level staff, these young companies don’t offer much, experts say.

Nearly two-thirds of Indian engineering graduates want to join large companies; most others are seeking employment at small and medium enterprises (SME).

The liking for big corporate jobs is the same across students from all branches of engineering, across genders, and types of colleges, the report said.

Most engineering students in India have next to no practical experience at the time of graduation. Few are cut out for the startup life where skills become obsolete fast and most employees have to take on multiple roles. “It’s usually the bold, the confident, and (the ones with) ability to learn on the job or with strong coding skills that enter the startup world,” said Vidhya Shankar, executive director at advisory firm Grant Thornton. “…there’s no time for spoon-feeding or intimate training.”

Moreover, India’s startups are caught in a bubble, with nine in 10 failing within five years of founding. “…when the unviable astronomical valuations of startups come down and the dust settles on true business cases, especially in B2C, and when more B2B tech product companies gain traction, more engineers may want to work there,” said Yugal Joshi, vice-president of consultancy Everest Group.

Already, the lines between big and small firms are blurring as digital technologies evolve. “Larger organisations will soon have to transform job roles in keeping with the changing times and focus on hiring individuals who can take on multiple tasks and added responsibilities, beyond the role that they were originally hired for,” said Shine.com’s Kaul.