TCS, India's largest software exporter by sales and one of the world's most valuable IT companies, is likely to cross the 5 lakh or half-a-million employee headcount milestone in the next three months, cementing its position as the country's biggest private-sector employer and a testament to India's ability to produce world-class talent in science, technology, and engineering at scale.
The software major ended financial year 20-21 with a total employee headcount of 4,88,649, adding 40,185 employees during the year. In the January-March 2021 period alone, it added 19,388 employees, the highest ever in a quarter, even as it clocked a record $9.2 billion worth of deals during the quarter. Its attrition during this period hit an all-time low of 7.2 percent, at a time when technology companies are hiring on a war footing due to the pandemic-induced digitisation and rising cloud adoption.
While the company did not give hiring guidance for the first quarter, the management said it would hire over 40,000 freshers in FY 2021-22, a number similar to the previous year. In an interaction with journalists after its fourth-quarter earnings, TCS' Chief Human Resources Officer Milind Lakkad indicated that a bulk of the onboarding will happen in Q1 (April-June) and Q2 (July-September).
Sources Moneycontrol spoke to said it was highly likely that TCS would cross the five lakh mark in Q1 itself as it looks to aggressively deploy freshers to meet rising demand.
TCS CEO Rajesh Gopinathan also told journalists that they are very confident about their ability to acquire and develop their own talent. "The key challenge is not the talent. The kind of opportunities we are seeing is very differentiated so we believe we need to grow talent internally," he said.
While the five lakh milestone would make TCS the largest Indian technology employer, globally it will come second to Accenture, which already has 5.37 lakh employees. While Infosys has an employee strength of nearly 2.5 lakh, HCL Tech and Wipro have 1.6 lakh and 1.9 lakh respectively. To put this in perspective, TCS will only be second to Indian Railways, a government-owned enterprise that has over a million employees. Private conglomerates such as Aditya Birla Group for example has over 1.2 lakh employees, while L&T has over 3.37 lakh and Reliance Industries has nearly 2 lakh employees.
Industry voices Moneycontrol spoke to said TCS's 5 lakh employee milestone will accentuate India's brand as a powerhouse of talent.
“TCS reaching the 500,000 employee mark—whenever it happens—will be a crowning testament to India’s ability to produce world-class talent at scale,” said Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Professional Learning at Krea University and former Chairman and MD, Cognizant, India, where he saw the company grow from about 1,000 employees to nearly 300,000 employees in about 22 years.
“It will further accentuate India’s brand as the talent powerhouse of the world and serve as an inspiration for companies, both in India and overseas, to invest in and gain from. Whenever we celebrate this watershed moment, it is important to recognise the role played by thousands of educational institutions in shaping and nurturing young talent, the foundation on which great institutions are built," he added.
Even as many technology CEOs flag concerns about a war for technology talent, rising salary expectations and an acute shortage of digital skills, TCS is not worried. There are a couple of factors driving its confidence.
TCS is one of the largest recruiters from campuses. Given the large fresher intake, the company has invested heavily in training and development initiatives to get freshers ready for projects in a short time.
One such initiative to cut down training time is through the platform FrescoPlay, which uses analytics to design individual-focused training programmes. According to sources Moneycontrol spoke to, the idea is to have freshers deployed immediately into projects than spend time training them once they come on board.
Secondly, the company extensively hires through NQT (National Qualifier Test), an assessment platform designed by TCS iON that measures the candidates’ cognitive ability, and skills relevant to their job. People who are in their final and pre-final year, with up to two years of work experience, can apply for the test. Apart from Tata group companies like TCS, and Titan, other firms such as Happiest Minds use NQT for hiring.
It has built up a vast database of candidates through NQT, that it can leverage for hiring needs in the future. The NQT test, which is open for freshers with less than two years of experience across India, will be conducted on May 1 and 13 this year.