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Bengaluru to Bay Area: Is there truth in Bhavish Aggarwal's remarks on tech hiring?

Bengaluru to Bay Area: Is there truth in Bhavish Aggarwal's remarks on tech hiring?

Despite rise in salaries, what Indian techies make are 50 per cent-60 per cent lower in comparison to the US, says Yeshab Giri, Randstad India director (staffing)

Monster Hiring Index noted a strong 32 per cent year-on-year growth for IT-hardware and software and a flourishing demand for talent in Bengaluru (50 per cent)-16:9 Monster Hiring Index noted a strong 32 per cent year-on-year growth for IT-hardware and software and a flourishing demand for talent in Bengaluru (50 per cent)-16:9

Multiple simultaneous job offers, 50-70 per cent joining hikes, Mercedes Benz cars and holiday in Dubai are the order of the day for top-notch tech talent in India as they enjoy a good run due to pent-up demand and Covid-led digitisation of enterprises. But comparing the pay of Bengaluru talent to that of counterparts in San Francisco's Bay Area, as Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal did perhaps jokingly, maybe stretching it too far.

Ola founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal on August 1 had a tongue-in-cheek take on the salaries of engineers in Bengaluru. "Engineering hiring situation in Bengaluru- thinking of offshoring some work to a lower cost center in SF, Bay Area!," he tweeted. The tweet drew flak from social media users, with many highlighting the difference between work culture in India and the US.

Recruitment firm Randstad India's director of staffing Yeshab Giri says the average salary of an IT/software engineer in Bengaluru with 0-5 years experience would be Rs 10 lakh per annum. For 6-15 years, it would be Rs 24 lakh and for more than 15 years experience, it would be Rs 46 lakh on an average. "Certain skills such as Csharp, C++, Golang, Hadoop may draw even higher average salaries," he adds.

"A software engineer from a non-IIT but good engineering college with 5-10 years of experience can get an average salary of Rs 12 lakh per annum in India. Compare that to $100,000 drawn in the US, which is Rs 75 lakh. Where is the comparison?" says Sanju Ballurkar, president at Experis IT, which is a part of Manpower Group India.
Even at the higher end, the most is Rs 15 lakh for a professional with five years experience. That's a 5x difference, he adds.

He says there is no doubt Bengaluru is leading the pack for IT hiring with very high talent availability, with both experts saying tech professionals in India's Silicon Valley draw 15-20 per cent higher salaries on average than those in other Indian cities.

The yearly, quarterly and monthly hiring trends from various surveys by job portals and recruitment firms also tell a similar story, with both tech roles and Bengaluru emerging top rankers in industry and city-wise performances, respectively.

Also read: It's raining jobs in IT! Skilled techies take home big bucks

For instance, Monster's Hiring Index noted a strong 32 per cent year-on-year growth for IT-hardware and software and a flourishing demand for talent in Bengaluru (50 per cent). Other metropolitan cities Pune (28 per cent), Hyderabad (22 per cent), Chennai (22 per cent), Mumbai (7 per cent), and Delhi (4 per cent) registered a much lesser annual growth.

The Naukri JobSpeak report for June 2021 found that hiring in the IT-Software/software services sector grew 5 per cent, noting that tech hiring remained relatively insular to the effects of the pandemic, an impact of rapid digitisation of Indian organisations.

Meanwhile, HCL Tech announced that it planned to give Mercedes-Benz cars to top performers. Fintech startup BharatPe's offer for new joiners includes a Dubai holiday, among other things.

Full stack developers, big data, internet of things, DevOps, cloud engineers, data science, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, digital transformation and automation are some of the skill sets in high demand in 2021, according to experts.

Also read: IT skills in top demand! Jobs aplenty for professionals with these expertise

The trend seems set to continue. According to the TeamLease Employment Outlook for July-September 2021, the hiring intent in India will rise 4 per cent points over the previous quarter driven by 58 per cent intent to hire in IT. This is second only to healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

The study said talent in IT, e-commerce and technology and startups are also the biggest gainers of attrition. Further, Bengaluru continues to take the pole position among cities with 60 per cent intent to hire, up 8 per cent points from the previous quarter.

"But Bengaluru is also losing some of its advantages because it's an expensive city. There are a lot of second cities coming up in a big way like Pune and Hyderabad," says Ballurkar.

Also read: Indians strong in math but lag in data skills, finds Coursera study

He says the high salaries are also because tech talent in India no longer does just application maintenance like it did 15 years ago. "Now, hardcore software product development including R&D and other latest tech is getting built here…India has transformed herself from being a low-cost, low-end software services option to the current stage as one the most cost effective, idea-to-implementation technology hub."

Also read: Hiring activity climbs 11% in Apr-Jun; IT, financial services, BPO/ITeS drive demand: Survey

Despite the rise in salaries, what Indian techies make are 50 per cent-60 per cent lower in comparison to the US, says Giri.

"In the range of fresher to up to 15 years of experience, there is a 3x or more difference in salaries between India and the US. That's why many companies are opening up delivery centres in India," says Ballurkar.

Also read: Good news! Job hiring to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021