Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DRDO to seek help from foreign experts to retain talent

With the attrition rate reaching alarming levels, India's premier defence research organisation DRDO will now rope in foreign experts to devise ways to retain top scientists engaged in strategic programmes.

DRDO's Recruitment and Assessment Centre (RAC), responsible for recruiting scientists, has invited human resource experts from the US, Britain, Germany, Australia and Israel to understand how these countries are managing to retain bright talents for their scientific programmes.

The initiative comes at a time when many strategic and futuristic programmes of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are getting delayed because of manpower crunch and failure of the organisation to attract top brains.

"High rate of attrition is a serious problem affecting our strategic programmes and that is why we have invited the foreign experts to guide us in attracting and retaining top talents," Director of RAC, Arun Kumar told PTI.

DRDO recruits about 1,000 scientists every year across all its 52 laboratories and the high attrition rate, which is around eight percent, has become a key factor affecting its growth.

The urgency is reflected from RAC's move to organise a four-day workshop beginning September 17, probably first type of such workshop in India, where foreign experts as well as HR managers from Infosys, Wipro, Tata, ISRO, CSIR and Department of Atomic Energy will share their experience with DRDO on various aspects of man-power management.

"These developed countries are known for their successful scientific and strategic programmes and we hope their inputs will help us in developing a wide array of tools to stem the flow of scientists to greener pastures," Kumar said.

"We will have to develop innovative ways to retain our talent as we are facing a steady exodus of scientists which is affecting various programmes," Kumar said, adding the flight is taking place from all the DRDO laboratories across the country.

Recruitment processes

The government has approved a 21 percent hike in salaries of defence employees on the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission this month.

However, the general feelings in the DRDO community is that the hike was too little and it will not help stem the exodus.

"The Sixth Pay Commission has offered something. But it is not upto our satisfaction," a source in DRDO said. Admitting that the high attrition rate was a major concern, DRDO chief M Natarajan recently mooted the idea of allowing the scientists to work for a specific period of time in private sector.

Kumar, who made significant contributions in developing missile systems, said DRDO has also failed to attract top brains from IITs, IIMs and other premier institutions and in-depth discussions on how to attract young talents to DRDO will take place in the workshop.

"The workshop on 'Emerging Frameworks and Issues for Science and Technology Recruitment' is designed to cover several important issues of pre-recruitment and post recruitment processes which go beyond general methodologies of selection processes," Kumar said.

Asked whether it is seeking help from human resource experts from NASA, Kumar said those responsible for recruiting talents for the American space agency have been invited. 

Kumar said Michael A McDanniel from Virginia Commonwealth University in US, Brett Myors from Australia's Gravatt university and many other experts from Israel and the UK have confirmed their participation.

Kumar said DRDO was open to forging collaboration with research institutions of these countries to reshape the framework of recruitment processes for Indian research organisations.

RAC, which was set up on 23 July 1985, undertakes various recruitment programmes to induct scientists in variety of scientific and engineering disciplines relevant to DRDO laboratories.

In order to commemorate its role in critical defence technologies for last five decades and turning India into a self-reliant nation, DRDO is observing the year 2008 as its golden jubilee year.
Its very simple to retain scientists - Pay properly. Is foreign help required on this?