Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Frustrated young engineers, designers eject from HAL cockpit | Poor pay, lack of challenging assignment & mentoring propel exodus | MoD should hike salaries of lower Grades: HAL

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Frustrated young engineers, designers eject from HAL cockpit | Poor pay, lack of challenging assignment & mentoring propel exodus | MoD should hike salaries of lower Grades: HAL

By Anantha Krishnan M & Sharan Poovanna
Bangalore: Hundreds of young engineers and designers, who have joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as design and management trainees (DTs & MTs), have ejected from the company cockpit in the last two years. While meager pay is the primary reason for their exit, lack of decent amenities, furniture, computers, hygienic food, challenging assignments and zero mentoring have also propelled the exodus.
Express' efforts to get an official version went in vain with HAL top brass failing to give any forthright response (see below). This has forced us to rely on conflicting figures given by our sources, directly involved with the recruitment and training process. While one set put the number of youngsters quitting at around 300 (162 from January 2010 to March 2011 & around 100 from March to October 2011), another official rounded it off to 400 (241 from January 2010 to March 2011 & 160 till date).
HAL started hiring MTs & DTs in large numbers in 2005 after undergoing agony, thanks to the poor-sighted recruitment ban in the mid-80s. “We suffered in the past due to the ban, and now it's hurting us even more. We spent lakhs training these youngsters for an entire year, before posting them at Divisions. They are even exposed to IITs and put through tailor-made training modules at reputed private firms,” an official with the Human Resources (HR) Department said.
Close to 80 per cent of people quitting are in Grade I, II & III, while 15 per cent are in Grade IV &  V and  the remaining five per cent above Grade VI. There are close to 10,000 officers (Grade-level) and 24,000 employees (Scale-level) in HAL working in centers spread across Bangalore, Nasik, Hyderabad, Korwa, Koraput, Kanpur, Lucknow, Barrackpore, Kasargode and  Delhi. HAL wants to have a combined strength (officers and employees put together) of 39,000, when the new perspective plan takes shape.
Sources also told Express that HAL had moved many proposals to MoD, seeking a hike in salaries of its employees on part with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). All the proposals were shot-down by the MoD, pointing out the impact move could have on other public sector undertakings (PSUs). “While HAL Grade-1 officer gets gross salary of around Rs 28,224, Grade-II Rs 36,736 and Grade-III Rs 46,144 – including DA and HR -- an equivalent position in NTPC gets 20-30 per cent more,” sources added.
HAL insiders are accusing the MoD of doing little to protect their talent, being poached by the private sector. “While on the one hand the MoD is encouraging private players in defence set-up, nothing is being done to safeguard our talent. Private companies are hiring our ready-made man-power, of a majority are well-trained engineers and designers in aviation. Junior-level officers are our biggest concern as they are getting less salaries,” says an official. When contacted in Delhi, Manoj Sounik, Joint Secretary (Aerospace), MoD, washed his hands off by saying he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Sources said that during exit interviews, many youngsters listed their woes fearlessly. “Challenging assignments and better facilities are two major factors. Some increments given to the lower grade were also withdrawn following pay panel guidelines. Youngsters have to be handled with care. The top management is always fighting for their chairs, leaving the youngsters in no-man's land," sources said.
Nayak retires on Oct 31.
I am not aware of exodus, says Nayak: HAL head A. Nayak has been ducking the media ever since he took over in April 2009. When Express contacted him to find out the measures being put in to stem the outflow of youngsters, Nayak, who is retiring on October 31, said: “I am not aware of anyone quitting. I don't have time to comment on these issues. I am busy in a meeting.”
However, his colleague Director Human Resources V.M. Chamola, a recent appointee in HAL, said: “We have taken quite a number of measures to address this issue. When you compare the percentage with some of the global aviation companies our attrition rates are less. I don't have the figures right away as I am in the middle of an appointment,” Chamola said.
Copyright@The New Sunday Express

For regular updates, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Tarmak007