Who says there’s a shortage of Manpower in the Information Technology Sector?

Software engineers rush to Gujarat in numbers

Dibeyendu Ganguly, Ahmedabad

The General perception is that growth of the information technology (IT) sector in Gujarat is stymied by an acute shortage of manpower. But today, that’s no longer true, as some leading IT companies demonstrate their ability to draw talent from across the country to Ahmedabad.

Take Net4Nuts Limited, a start up company promoted by two USA-returned Gujaratis, which is working on some cutting edge internet technology. The company recently advertised in the appointments pages of two Bangalore based papers and received an overwhelming response. Says promoter Chirag Patel, “We’ve received 3,000 applications, of which ten per cent are really high quality. When you’re working on something really interesting, its not difficult to attract good IT people.”

While Net4Nuts is still in the process of selecting its first batch of recruits, the Rs. 26 crore Applitech Solution Limited (ASL) already has a workforce that is predominantly from other parts of the country. From just 170 in January, the organization has now grown to employ 300 IT professionals and most of the recent recruitment has been from Mumbai and Pune.

Gujarat’s own educational institutions produce only 7,000 engineers a year, as compared to 18,000 in Andhra, 27,000 in Karnataka and 32,000 in Tamilnadu, which makes it imperative for the State to catch up by importing talent from elsewhere. Says ASL vice president Mukesh Patel, who was part of the CII-Gujarat task force which recently toured Karnataka and Andhra to study the growth of their IT industry, “The idea that Gujarat can’t attract IT professionals is in danger of becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. The fact is, young people are more than willing to come here if the job is right. In our case, 75 per cent are out-of-towners.”

ASL ranks as Gujarat’s biggest and fastest growing IT company and is thus able to attract talent to its offices in Ahmedabad easier than others. In the next phase of its growth, the company is considering setting up a second software development center in Pune, for which it plans to raise funds through an initial public offer.

Meanwhile, the Gandhinagar based Contech Software Limited, which recently completed an IPO, is another company that had some success in recruiting a large number of software professionals, from as far away as Chennai. Says managing director, Rajan Vasa, “When we advertised in the south three years ago, we drew a zero.

Now we are more established and our HRD system is more developed, so we are able to draw talent. We invite candidates to visit Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad during the recruitment process and most of them seem to agree that Gujarat is a great place to live in.”

Ironically, the lower level of IT industry development in Gujarat can actually present companies located here with some advantages. Says Vishnu Varshney, managing director of Gujarat Venture Finance Limited, which is trying hard to promote IT in the state, “Companies locating here do not have to contend with the same degree of employee attrition as they have in Bangalore or Hyderabad. Since there are fewer opportunities in Gujarat just now, people stay in their job. Which is something companies investing here can cash in on.”