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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 July, 2003, 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK
IT professionals return to India

By Maggie Shiels
San Francisco, US

The Career Factory's brochure
The message is blunt
India's brain drain is coming full circle after more than 1,000 people turned out for a recruitment drive.

It is believed to be India's first ever campaign to lure Indian ex-pats away from high-tech industries in Silicon Valley.

The glossy brochure promoting the jobs fair in Santa Clara is further evidence of a reversal in the Valley's fortunes.

Its front page boldly declared that "India is Hiring" - the subtext being that Silicon Valley is not.

"While there have been many career fairs we have organised before, this is the first we have organised for people going back to India," said Karthik Sundaram, managing editor of Silicon India Magazine.

"The response here is awesome."

So much so that fire chiefs told the organisers to close their doors to new arrivals or risk breaching fire safety rules.

Reversal of fortunes

During the go-go years of the high-tech boom, jobs seekers were spoilt for choice as companies struggled to fill thousands of vacancies.

Amit Zavery from Oracle
Oracle's Zavery: "The time difference is really helping us"
Today the picture is very different with unemployment standing at 8.6% in Santa Clara, higher than California's statewide rate of 6.7%.

In the boom years, foreign workers were drafted in as the local talent pool dried up.

From the outset Indian techies accounted for most of the H1-B visas issued for work in the industry.

Not so rosy

Bala Arrunakarinatham is a recent graduate who came to the career factory because he is out of work and had "heard that India is hiring like crazy".

This is a good opportunity to go back to my home country
Kaylan Rajasekh
Electrical engineer
"I thought I want to know where I stand in the job market and that's why I am here," he said.

"It's so depressing because a couple of years back this place was a heaven.

"Today this place is a hell to look for a job. Right now it is very tough."

Twenty-seven-year-old electrical engineer Kaylan Rajasekh agrees.

"Things are not rosy here," he said.

"I have been looking for a long time for work and now this is a good opportunity to go back to my home country."

Skills shortage

Throughout the evening, job seekers such as Bala and Kaylan handed their resumes to recruiters.

Carly Fiorina
HP's Fiorina: only the most adaptable will survive
And they queued up to hear about possible opportunities 12,500 miles away with big name companies such as Microsoft, Intel, National Semiconductor, Adobe, Cadence and Network Associates.

In all, the organisers said that around 450 jobs were on offer.

Brian Ridgeway from National Semiconductor said his firm had 35 vacancies at its offices in Bangalore.

"We have a design centre in India and we are finding it difficult to hire people in India for these roles," he said.

"So when we heard about this job fair for people wishing to go back, we thought if there are people who fit our criteria we will take them back there."

Cheap labour

According to market research firm Gartner, India's technology services market is set to grow 23% over the next three years.

It is one of the world's fastest growing technology sectors, in part because India offers lower labour costs than the United States.

"There is a good mix of talent in India at a reasonable price, so cost structures are a consideration," said Paul Trevison from Cadence, which has 35 job openings in India.

Oracle's Amit Zavery believes another reason for India's popularity with international firms is their need to keep ahead of competitors in a globalised business climate requiring seamless 24-hour customer service.

"Its easier in terms of working with the 12-hour time cycle so we get a 24-hour development process," he said.

"When a customer calls in with a bug, we can pass it off when people go to sleep here.

"The same thing if you look at the patching work we do, customer applications.

"We usually do the things in the night. When we are finished work here, now they do it in India, so the time difference is really helping us a lot."

Adaptable

Oracle already employs more than 3,000 people in India and is hiring about 100 employees a month.

Earlier this month, the company announced a partnership with HP to open a new centre near New Delhi to showcase government applications being used by Indian agencies.

At a business forum organised by the Churchill Club, HP's chief executive Carly Fiorina told colleagues that outsourcing is the way of the future and the Valley needs to adapt or be left behind.

"The Valley now has to see itself as competing on a world stage for innovative capability and talent. This isn't the only place where innovation happens any more," she said.

Ten years ago, an event like this would have been unthinkable.

But as Ms Fiorina quotes from Charles Darwin: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change."


SEE ALSO:
India 'must balance its books'
21 Jul 03  |  Business
India warns US over outsourcing
12 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Indian IT fires back at Europe
20 May 03  |  Business
India's digital divide
25 May 03  |  From Our Own Correspondent


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