Thousands of Indians work in the US on the prized H-1B, a non-immigration visa that allows American companies to hire foreign workers for roles that require a certain level of expertise. However, the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has spawned a crisis of layoffs that has already affected millions in the US, which currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases.
Reports suggest a large number of H-1B holders have been laid off too, and experts predict the impact will reflect in job offers at IITs and IIMs, where campus placement seasons are known to draw plum packages from leading international players.
‘Foreign job market looks weak’
Campus placements at IITs and IIMs are generally held between December and April every year. Speaking about the impact of the pandemic on placements, Siddharth Verma, who deals with hiring at Bengaluru-based staffing firm Xpheno said the “first level of trouble could come for people who have just graduated, as their joining may be deferred in view of the travel restrictions”.
“Those who had already left for the respective countries and joined are sorted, but others are stuck now. Then there is a possibility that some offers may be withdrawn, but it is possible only in certain sectors,” he added.
Late last month, US-based research firm Gartner rescinded job offers made to multiple students at IITs and IIMs.
“There is a discussion going on… that international hiring can be affected because the bulk of the recruiters used to be from the United States… With the ongoing situation around the world, especially in the US, it is difficult that international recruitment will happen,” said Verma.
According to Verma, jobs in the finance and consulting sectors are more likely to be affected, while tech companies are expected to continue hiring.
A former IIM-Ahmedabad placement cell representative who now works for an international firm said the “international job market looks weak this year”.
“If the institutes are able to retain their existing base of companies, that is good enough. There is no expectation of adding new recruiters,” he added.
‘Too early to comment’
While at least two branches of IIMs said they expected the pandemic to hit placements in different ways, two IITs — whose crop of tech pundits is expected to ride out the slump — claimed it was too early to comment.
“As of today, we have not had any cancellations of international job offers, we need to see how the current situation with Covid-19 progresses in the country and around the world,” said C.S. Shankar Ram, adviser for training and placement IIT-Madras.
“We would like to wait until December to see if international placements would be affected. However, given the quality of students at IITs and IIMs, any foreign recruiter would want to hire their students,” he added.
IIT-Delhi also said they would like to wait before making any assumptions. “It’s too early to comment on this,” the IIT-Delhi said in its official response to queries from ThePrint.
IIM-Udaipur, meanwhile, said they were not expecting any international job offers for the next one year.
“Due to mobility challenges, it is unlikely that we will have any international placements in the next one year. It would also have implications on the summer internships,” said Janat Shah, director, IIM-Udaipur.
“Even after the pandemic subsides, most countries may implement quarantine regulations for international travellers. So, I believe, at least for a year we would mostly rely on domestic recruiters,” he added.
IIM-Bengaluru said they expected a drop in salary packages in the coming times. However, Dinesh Kumar, the chairperson of Career Development Services at IIM-Bengaluru, added that it was too early to make predictions on whether job offers will reduce.
“It is too early to make predictions. One of the primary reasons why international companies visit India is that they find it difficult to recruit certain types of skills in their respective countries,” he said. “As long as demand for such skills exists, I do not see any drop.”
This is an updated version of the report