Engineering a fading Career

Niraj Dubey
Indian engineers may figure among the most powerful CEOs in the world, but the country’s B.Tech/BE degree has lost its sheen over the years. According to a survey conducted by Aspiring Minds- an employability assessment company, 80 per cent of Indian engineers are unemployable for any job in the knowledge economy. Notably, the Human Resource Development Ministry’s AISHE 2019 report stated that engineering and technology is the fourth major stream in India. Out of total 27 Lakhs vacant seats in various government as well as private engineering colleges, only 13 Lakhs seats were filled last year (i.e. around 48% of the allotted quota defined by the AICTE.).During the boom in the IT industry, engineering colleges mushroomed all across the country. But these institutes lacked an updated curriculum and focused on non-existent linkages with industry and had poor student-faculty ratio.While Prime Minister NarendraModi promotes his Make in India mission and the country hopes to reap a demographic dividend through its predominantly young population, quality of engineering education plays a spoilsport.India’s problem of substandard engineering education is now widely known. Except the IITs, a few NITs and some private engineering colleges, these new institutes failed to make their students job-ready. As per a recent report, engineers applied for Group D level jobs where the minimum qualification required is not more than class 12 passing certificates.In 2017-18, less than 50 per cent students got jobs from AICTE-approved engineering colleges. Of the 7.92 lakh students who graduated, only 3.59 lakh secured employment through campus placements (data shared by HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal in Lok Sabha this year). These figures do not include students who got jobs outside of campus placements, who are self-employed or opted for higher studies.In an interview with the Indian Express, AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said the root problem is the large number of private and deemed universities which are not under the purview of AICTE. “The qualifying criteria were probably relaxed to increase the gross enrolment ratio, cater to increased demand, but no one followed up to check if the institutes were eventually following rules,” he said.Unlike engineering institutes whose intake is monitored by the apex body, there is no limit on private universities and deemed universities offering B.Tech courses.
Lack of training
But not all can be attributed to the brand name alone. A lot of the engineering colleges suffer a skill gap that plays into their lack of employability. Technical skills like computer programming, logical ability, quantitative ability, and even communication, fall behind in these schools. This shows a lack of emphasis in honing the skills that are so required in occupation in the IT industry roles like IT Product. The gap reduces when it comes to core engineering skills, though, which indicates that the schools generally rely on basic technical curriculum without the training upgrades required in the current industry scenario.As far as the quality of the student who passed their engineering education from respective institutions, it is found from the recent survey that 80% of the pass out technocrats are not fit for employment. As far as software coding is concerned, it is found that only 4.8% engineer are best in coding in India, which is slightly better in comparison to an engineer in china where coding percentage is only 2.6%. When we compare Indian engineering graduate with their U.S. counterpart, 18.8% engineer are better in software coding ability in U.S.As far as student placement is concerned, only 6 lakhs student got placed in various small & big enterprises.
Lack of faculty and resources
Well educated, qualified, sound educators who have the backing of not just a PhD but hopefully also the ability to keep up with the industry demands and the ability to motivate innovation and research.The quality of engineering education is also a reflection of the quality of educators, most of who lack any or all of the above merits.The focus perhaps should be more on imparting real industry skills rather than waste four years in teaching subjects that are quickly forgotten or are of little practical consequence. The standard of education is thus subjected to mere working towards grades and rote learning – a learning style which is totally averse to independent analytical, logical, and overall learned thinking.It is apparent from the study that Indian students are not unable to think high. It’s the lack of quality education that stunts their academic growth.
Parental pressures
At a recent conference in Hyderabad on transforming engineering education, international educators asked over 1,000 students about pursuing engineering as a career. The faculty and management of the hosting institution were not permitted to attend: this was by design, as the experts wanted a true heart-to-heart exchange with our nation’s youth.The animated session brought out truths that are rarely told in public. The majority of students confessed that they never wanted to pursue engineering but did so because of parental pressure. Nearly all confessed that they are constantly distracted by smartphones and the pressures of having a social life. There is a perceptible disconnect between the students, faculty and managements of engineering colleges. For nearly two decades now, the Indian tech industry’s unique selling proposition (USP) has been that, India with its vast infrastructure of engineering colleges, can supply the world with well-trained, best-in-class software workers and engineers. India’s problem of substandard engineering education is now widely known. … At the root of the problem is mushrooming of low-quality engineering colleges over the years. As students from such colleges fail to get suitable jobs, they face decline in enrolment.Due to lack of interest of students to pursue engineering education as well as sudden downfall in admission strength, around 518 engineering colleges got closed in the session 2018-19. In view of the above mention scenario, the AICTE impose ban on opening of new engineering colleges for the next two years. While the AICTE official has also made it clear that they may review this decision after two years.
AICTE initiative to improve
quality standards
With a view to improve the standards of technical education and to provide competent technical manpower for the Make-In-India campaign, the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) has approved various packages of measures to be implemented by all the technical institutions. Every affiliating Technical University shall constitute subject-wise industry consultation committee (ICC) with the mandate of examining the existing curriculum and for making suitable changes in the curriculum every year. This process shall be completed in the month of December each year for the courses to be offered in the coming Academic year. Each institution, while applying for approval, shall certify completion of this process, which will be mandatory. Every teacher in each of the technical education disciplines shall mandatorily undergo an annual refresher course delivered through SWAYAM portal, encapsulating all the major advances in the field of their study. Online courses would also be prepared and delivered through the SWAYAM platform for improving the pedagogical techniques of the teachers. The participation in the courses by at least 50% of the faculty would be a mandatory condition for approval of the institution. Similarly, there should be leadership training to the heads of the institutions once in 2 years. These trainings would also be hosted through the SWAYAM platform.
(The author is Sr. Faculty & Chief Warden (GCET – Jammu)