As many as 97 per cent of graduating engineers want jobs either in software engineering or core engineering. However, only 3 per cent have suitable skills to be employed in software or product market, and only 7 per cent can handle core engineering tasks.
According to the HRD ministry, India has 6,214 engineering and technology institutions which are enrolling 2.9 million students. Around 1.5 million engineers are released into the job market every year. But the dismal state of higher education in India ensures that they simply do not have adequate skills to be employed.
So, what can happen when such a large population of youth do not get jobs? Experts say that this may cause serious instability in the economic and social conditions in the country, along with wide scale dissatisfaction and disillusionment.
The quantity of universities, colleges and programmes are increasing, but the lack of quality education persists. Profit-hungry managements, lack of skill education, resplendent corruption, focus on rote-learning methods, and shortage of faculty (both in quantity and quality) are the major issues plaguing higher education. Graduates are collecting their degrees despite not being skilled enough to be a productive part of the Indian economy.
Factors working behind an engineer’s employability:
The following factors decide whether an engineer is employable:
- The ability to apply the concepts learnt to constantly develop innovative things and find solutions to complex problems are main factors working behind the employability of an engineer.
- The state of the economy also plays a major role for employment generation. Industry insiders say that in a strained economic condition, companies do not want to spend much on training and would prefer candidates with some skill sets who can be made billable soon.
- Location factor: In Tier-1 cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, 18.26 per cent of software engineers are job-ready, while in Tier-2 cities such as Pune, Nagpur and Surat, 14.17 per cent are employable.
This shows that candidates from lower tier cities are not getting the same opportunities as those hailing from Tier-1 cities, even if they are equally qualified and skilled.
- Problems with English language along with issues in computer programming make these students ineligible for employment. The difference in English and cognitive skill modules may only be a function of the input quality of the students. There is a consistent trend that the maximum gap is in computer programming, followed by cognitive skills and English and least in other domain skills.
Major problems with engineering education in India:
Syllabus not updated regularly:
- The course contents do not focus on areas which will actually help in the job industry after employment. There is a big gap between what the market needs and what Indian education equips its future employees with. Despite exponential changes in science and technology round the world, the syllabus is hardly ever updated. For instance, while mobile computing is proving to be the next growth driver for the industry, the curriculum does not reflect it.
- Even when new branches of engineering are added, the structure remains traditional.
- “The traditional education sector in India has not evolved at the same pace as the industry. The expectations that the companies have from their candidates and the skills that engineering graduates bring in, do not match,” he adds.
Lack of quality teachers:
- There are more than 33,023 colleges in India granting degrees. There are not enough quality teachers for all of these educational institutes.
- After multinational companies, the IT big shots of India, and the smaller engineering companies have had their pick, many from the remaining engineering graduates go on to get a PhD and join as faculty at engineering institutes.
- Most educated engineers join teaching as a profession not because of passion, but because they have to earn a livelihood. The few good professors prefer administrative positions because of lower intellectual demands coupled with higher pay packages.
Lack of innovation and research:
- Students need to be motivated enough to innovate or think for themselves. As someone recently said, “Why do we lack innovation in India? Because, we don’t allow questioning. We don’t promote inquisitiveness. If a child asks questions in school, he is asked to sit down. We need to promote inquisitiveness, children should ask questions.”
- Students must be given the space and scope to think and innovate, to question and come up with solutions. This applies to both school education and higher education.
- Such are Indian students trained right from their primary education that they never learn to question or innovate. Rote learning instils in students a sort of complacency for more than 12 years of education and they are unable to make the shift from un-questioning learners to innovators in the job market.
Faulty education system:
- Semester systems and the process of continuous evaluation are not fulfilling their desired roles as the students are not interested in continuous learning-they only want good grades. Unless the specific purpose of such initiatives is properly understood by faculty and students alike, these methods likely would not work.
Lack of skill-based education:
- Skill-based education is another immediate need. Engineering students need to have hands-on training on the basis of the problems they are likely to encounter in the real world.
- One major problem fresh graduates face is their insufficient understanding of basic concepts. The lack of understanding of technical information, lack of client-handling skills and insufficient knowledge across domains are big skill gaps.
- While the vast numbers of engineering students in the country study their textbooks, give their exams and collect their degrees, it is only when they encounter the real world problems do they realise their shortcomings. By then, they have to take extra time in order to skill themselves or suffer unemployment.
Importance of college name:
- Companies are prone to recruit potential employees from top colleges. Resumes from relatively unknown colleges do not get shortlisted. This creates a lack in equal opportunities, and causes a deficiency of quality employees as this process ignores a huge number of good, capable students who do not study in top tier colleges.
Ease of permission from state governments:
- A major cause of mushrooming engineering colleges is the ease with which state governments grant permission to little-known barely-trained educational trusts and organisations to set up the same.
- Karnataka’s Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) alone oversees as many as 200 engineering colleges, while in all the 50 US states combined, there are about 1,000 accredited engineering colleges.
The IT ’employability’:
- Despite the fact that the IT sector carries out the highest number of recruitments from the pool of engineers, only 18 per cent engineers are skilled enough to work there, while, for IT product roles, the numbers are as low as 3 per cent.
- Due to comparatively higher employment in the IT sector, students even from other disciplines take up IT-related courses. Thus, the end result of this inadequate education creates engineering graduates who are not well-versed in their core subjects, nor in IT.
Lack of proper English skills:
- Lack of English communicative skills, found in 74 per cent of candidates, and low analytical and quantitative skills, discovered in 58 per cent of candidates are other reasons for unemployment.
Disregard of essential soft skills:
- Soft skills have become very important in the present job industry, but they are routinely ignored in educational institutes.
- The lack of ability of the individual to deliver his views effectively at the interview, leads to rejection of even the most brilliant candidate. This is because training institutes do not make an effort to ensure that candidates develop their skills in a wholesome manner which can contribute towards client-handling and team communication skills.