Like medicine, engineering too was a fad in India. Not anymore, at least if we see the phenomenal rise in the number of engineering graduates being churned out year on year, with the career options between few and far. Exponential rise in the number of engineering colleges, lesser and lesser job opportunities in the chosen stream, fall in the quality of education are few reasons attributed.
Hardly a decade back, Engineering education was the most sought after course, with more emphasis on IT graduates. A bevy of IT firms, with plenty of orders in hand, picked up bright talents from the campuses of premium engineering colleges, looking for B.Tech Information Technology graduates across the country with fat salaries. As the demand for manpower rose, more and more engineering graduates from other streams such as electronics, mechatronics, EEE, automobile and others joined the bandwagon, aspiring for fat salaries and lavish lifestyles. So when the fad caught up, majority of the students wanted to be an engineer.
As there was humungous demand for engineering courses, the situation changed in an abnormal way, where more number of students vying for less number of available seats. Seeing the burgeoning demand, more number of engineering colleges started springing up pan India, more particularly in Tamil Nadu. As of 2013, the state reported an intake of 2.05 lakh engineering as against the previous year’s intake of 1.82 lakh. When the ratio between the requisite workforces against the available candidates had a dramatic mismatch, the apple kart started tumbling. More engineers and less employment opportunities saw many candidates, who had spent fortune to pursue their education found jobless.
Poor quality of education
Added to that is the deteriorating quality of education. For instance, the constant complaint from the HR personnel of the IT firms is that, many of the computer engineering candidates hired from campuses do not even know the basics of writing a programme, leave alone handling complex projects. According to industry grapevines, an estimated 80% of the new engineers are not fit for employment. This of course has a direct bearing on the economy of India. When realization dawned in the students that the scope of gaining employment is thin by pursuing engineering graduation, the student’s preference changed in a dramatic fashion. In 2014, the intake of engineering stream dipped by 10%, forcing many Tier-III colleges to wind up. In Tamil Nadu alone, around 100,000 engineering seats were vacant in 2015.
Many of the IT graduates are now opting for other professions that have no relevance to what they had pursued. Ranging from sales job to taxi-drivers, these IT graduates desperately get into some non-engineering jobs to stay afloat. Many of these students would have availed bank loans to pursue their IT graduation, so when they near payback time, out of sheer desperation, they will end up taking up odd jobs.
If you think, it is an isolated thing in the IT engineering stream alone, perhaps that is not the truth.
Lack of interest
“Engineering education is losing its sheen due to the lack of interest in the minds of students”, Prof. (Dr.) Raghuveer VR, Dean, R&D and Head of CSE Department, Geetanjali Institute of Technical Studies, Dabok, Udaipur told Udaipur Times recently.
“The scope for engineering is far more than what is been thought these days and the engineers have to be made in such a way they should feel more capable than their peers doing other courses”, he said.
Prof. Raghuveer said that the education system in practice across the academic institutions primarily focused on mark/grade based assessment wherein the learners were evaluated based on their performance in examinations. Since many students knew how to tackle these examinations, most of them succeeded by gaining excellent marks thereby making it cumbersome for the recruiters to identify the real talent.
Forgetting the basics
With the colleges and universities aiming at getting recognition from national and international accreditation boards to make more fortunes, they forgot the very basic stake holder of the system, the students, Prof. Radhuveer lamented.
Stating that a good engineering institute should nurture the students in order to realise their passion and make them advance in their domain of interest, he went on to add that instead, the students were motivated to take up placements in mediocre firms for meagre salaries. Engineering is not about studying something, rather its purely about learning something by doing, he pointed out.
“The primary objective of Engineering education is to give more importance to practical subjects because the more the engineers practice, the more they understand. It is these practical subjects that that gives the engineers the insights about a typical real-world problem. This also enables them to understand the problem scenario and think of solutions to address them. Not giving due importance to practical subjects in turn leads to creating engineers who are not industry ready”, he said and added: “However, the engineers of today are stereotyped only to work do the task given by the companies. This prevents them from seeing the big picture about the problem domain for which they are working thereby making them only to work on development rather than analysis or design.”
With humungous demand for the engineers in the years to come, thanks to the automation that is fast emerging in every field, engineers of tomorrow should possess the confidence to face the society on their own and take up challenging tasks that can address bigger social issues in the fields like energy, healthcare, infrastructure and smart technologies. In order to achieve this, the academic and research standards of engineering colleges should improve a lot.
“Engineering institutes should be run by visionary people whose dreams are far beyond admissions and placements. Every institute should become a resource factory where the students can learn by doing rather than just being sitting ducks in the classrooms”, Prof. Raghuveer added.