BPOs welcome school, college dropouts
Deccan Herald Sunday, December 05, 2004

Non-graduates constitute a significant per cent of the headcount in many companies due to the rising demand for manpower in the ITES sector.


You don’t need a degree to be a call centre professional. Call centre recruitment seems to have touched a new peak — many reputed call centres and business process outsourcing (BPOs) units have begun hiring non-graduates (those with SSLC and 10+2 qualifications).

Leading BPO firm MphasiS BPO Services, British financial services company HSBC, ITC Infotech’s ClientLogic, and Transworks, the BPO arm of the Aditya Birla group, are some of the leading companies that have expressed interest in hiring non-graduates. With just one rider — good communication skills. As a “non-traditional hire” strategy, some companies are even trying out school dropouts who are communicative.

“Hiring non-graduates is definitely on the rise, as companies are coming round to the fact that a fancy degree just doesn’t matter,” said Gautam Sinha, CEO of headhunting firm TVA Infotech.

“The trend will intensify as more BPOs are going to Type II cities, where they may have to prefer communication skills over educational qualifications. What companies are looking for is team work and communication skills. The pay-scales for non-graduates may be slightly lesser, but they usually catch up with graduates, in terms of salaries obtained,” observed Gautam Sinha, CEO of headhunting firm TVA Infotech.

Non-graduates constitute as much as 15 per cent of the total headcount in companies like MphasiS, which is adding undergraduates to its payrolls more because of the rising demand for manpower in the ITES sector than any effort to cut down salary costs. “Why not? The task is simple and the pool of non-graduates who are well-versed in English is almost the same as that of graduates,” said a placement consultant, whose firm hires over 100 call centre executives every month for its clients.

Explained Roy Sinai, Director - HR, at MphasiS, “A degree is not the only qualification for suitability on the job, so we are looking to non-traditional hires to expand the resource pool. The high levels of attrition in the industry adds to the need to expand the pool of qualified resources to give our business the flexibility to meet varied needs of clients.”

Training imparted for graduates and under-graduates is the same. And there has been no noticeable distinction in the performance levels of both kinds of employees, said Mr Sinai. “In terms of behaviour, graduates display more maturity while under-graduates may have a more casual approach. Our behavioural training program is focussed to close this gap. Companies need to develop flexible work schedules and part-time opportunities to address the specific needs of undergraduates, many of whom are simultaneously pursuing further education,” he said.

While spokespersons of other companies refused to go on record in an effort to maintain confidentiality, placement consultants of these firms did say that companies were willing to sponsor higher education of their employees through correspondence courses as long as they stick on with the company.

Career growth possibilities for a non-graduate, too, is as high as that for a graduate. “Incentives (promotions, increments, bonuses and perks) are purely based on performance and meeting client expectations. Graduation/qualification is an entry level criterion and performance on the floor is determined on the job. Compensation and perks are purely based on performance. To grow to higher responsibilities, we do consider educational background, especially at the early stage of joining. We are also tied up with educational institutions to provide our employees with opportunities to further their educational aspirations,” said Mr Sinai.