Auto companies are slamming the brakes on campus hiring.

Auto companies are slamming the brakes on campus hiring, cutting it to half or even less this year, owing to one of the worst slowdowns.

Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata MotorsMaruti Suzuki and Ashok Leylandare cutting down on intake of freshers from campuses, even as there is a freeze on overall lateral hiring across levels, said industry insiders.

At Mahindra, the country’s largest maker of utility vehicles and tractors, entry-level campus hiring will be reduced to about half. “As against around 400 we used to hire, we will take just about 200 this year,” said chief people officer Rajeshwar Tripathi. The approach now is to minimise fresh hiring and enhance productivity, he said.

“Since start of the downturn, we have been very judicious in our external hiring, including campus hiring, and have been encouraging internal job rotations to fill open positions,” said a Tata Motors spokesperson.

Maruti and Ashok Leyland did not respond to ET’s queries.

July sales of vehicles fell the most in 19 years across categories, at 18.7% on-year, as per data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. In the passenger vehicle segment, the fall was almost 31%.

“The auto sector is not very big on hiring from B-schools like the IIMs. They are more in the engineering colleges and they are going to feel the pinch,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, founderchief executive, The Head Hunters India. They also take students from industrial training institutes and they will also be hit, said Lakshmikanth. “It is not just this year, the next two years will be bad with no light at the end of the tunnel at the moment,” he added.

“Auto companies are hiring less,” said Harish Kumar, associate director, industrial licensing and placements, Manipal Institute of Technology. “As of now, the number of offers from auto companies is very low.” The transition to electrification from traditional core engine technology may also affect campus hiring, he said.

Rotation of experiences and skill-building are some of the key focus areas in auto companies. In addition, there is an opportunity for relooking at productivity norms and plant layouts.

“With the auto sector meltdown, there will be pressure on companies to relook at campus hiring in this cycle. While productivity and manpower rationalisation, along with some injection of fresh blood, would be the right things, my sense is the numbers will be significantly truncated on both business and engineering campuses,” said Prabir Jha, a former chief HR officer at Tata Motors and the founder and CEO of Prabir Jha People Advisory.

Given the fall in demand, automakers have slashed production which has affected about 3,50,000 jobs across vehicle manufacturing, components and distribution segments in the past three months. The affected employees include about 2,30,000 at dealers, 100,000 in the auto component industry and another 15,000 casual and temporary workers.

According to industry estimates, a million additional jobs stand to get affected in auto component manufacturing if the slowdown persists. The automotive industry employs 37 million people, directly and indirectly.

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