Laid off professionals approach placements, startups amid job crunch

As a wave of fresh job cuts sweeps across the edtech sector, laid-off professionals and worried employees at troubled firms are reaching out for placements. Recruitment firms as well as startups that are hiring are seeing a big influx of calls and resumes from edtech professionals looking for new jobs, as trouble in the sector looks likely to escalate.

Job consultants say many are willing to take pay cuts of even 20-40%. At the senior level, it could go up, even more, factoring in the value of ESOPs.

“The edtech sector didn’t factor in the possibility that things might move back to a physical model after the pandemic. Now they are suffering the consequences,” says Anshuman Das, managing partner of executive search firm Longhouse Consulting.

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He cites the case of a former top honcho at an affected edtech firm who was getting Rs 3 crore plus in cash plus nearly three times the amount in ESOPs. Initially unwilling to compromise on his salary, he is now willing to settle for a cut.

Tech, sales and marketing, content, product developers, teachers and contractual staff like testers, have all been affected. While the first two categories have comparatively more opportunities, teachers are among the worst hit.

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Many came in at 40-50% hikes when the sector was booming and have now been left high and dry, adds Das.

Pranshu Upadhyay, regional director, and head-India technology practice, Michael Page, says they have seen an almost 60% rise in applications from the edtech sector. Laid-off employees are willing to take other jobs at 30-35% pay cuts, he says.

“I believe the edtech sector will have to take a few pro-employee steps like outplacement for laid-off employees to protect their image for the future,” Upadhyay said.

Estimates suggest that edtech has seen close to 7,000 layoffs across companies including Byju’s, Unacademy, Vedantu, Lido Learning and FrontRow as it sees a sharp comedown from pandemic highs when the world shifted online. Companies catering to the K12 segment are the most-impacted segment while higher education is better off.

Edtech firms which are hiring and in a more stable positions are also seeing a spate of professionals reaching out to them

Mayank Kumar, co-founder at online higher education company upGrad, says an average of five to seven professionals have been reaching out to him daily. upGrad is planning to hire 1,000-odd professionals, mostly in sales, over the next two quarters.

“There is rationalisation in the crazy salaries that we were seeing. People are willing to move at flat salaries, even take cuts,” he says.

Kanika Mendiratta, senior director, people experience at BrightChamps, said they are hiring and plan to scale up both full-time employees as well as increase the number of empanelled teachers from 3,000 to 5,000 in the next 1-1.5 years.

“We have seen edtech folks reaching out but domain exposure alone is not a qualifier. Our hiring bar is very high,” she says.

While social media is abuzz with offers to help such laid-off candidates, some recruiters are circumspect. “Good people have been laid off, but so have the bottom performers. We are a little wary because sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the good apples from the bad,” said an edtech CXO.

Sanam Rawal, partner at Passion Connect, a strategic services unit incubated by VC Blume Ventures to help the latter’s portfolio companies in areas such as HR advisory services, says they have been given a list of 500+ people who have been laid off from major edtech firms, and are working with them on outplacement. Some of them have found jobs already. They are trying to place the rest in other portfolio companies that are hiring—in sectors like SaaS, agritech and hyperlocal commerce.

“I am not seeing a huge amount of pay cuts happening except on some very senior roles where they are being compensated by equity,” says Rawal.

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Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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