How well-equipped are our graduates?

How well-equipped are our graduates?

In its report titled, Perspectives 2020, NASSCOM has stated that only 26 per cent of engineering graduates are employable in the IT sector. A closer look into the condition on ground reveals that the situation is the same across industries.

On the one hand, thousands of engineering graduates across streams are unemployed while on the other, companies are screaming for want of suitable candidates to hire. In a country which produces over 5 lakh engineers annually, the yawning gap between industry and academia continues to exist. While academic institutions can contribute significantly to lower the knowledge-skill gap that is affecting the engineering and technology industry in India, engineering graduates can also do their bit to make themselves ‘job-ready’. Given below are some key pointers and recommendations that could guide students make wise career decisions.

What engineering students can do:

- Choose your engineering stream carefully: The advice to aspiring engineering students would be to first do a thorough introspection on their career calling. It is not important to choose a stream because your friends are choosing it. One should consider the larger picture before narrowing down on a particular stream of engineering. Rather, students should think what it is about engineering that excites them. What area of engineering complements your talent and aptitude best? If they are not sure, students should go for professional career counselling that rely on scientific methods to give them a fair idea and point them in the right direction.

-Gain additional qualifications: Engineering graduates should focus on gaining additional qualification over and above their engineering degree. Professional certifications such as chartered engineer, incorporated engineer, engineering technician etc., are available that will give young professionals the edge and establish their competence  in the market.

- Gain more exposure: Employers place considerable value on practical experience. Students must focus on gaining hands-on experience by seeking as many internship opportunities which will expose them to the job market earlier in their academic career and also guide them to choose a career stream of their choice.  

- Focus on soft-skills: While technical skills are mandatory, one cannot disregard the importance of soft skills. Engineers should focus on gaining critical skill sets beyond the technical domain. These include communication, people and managerial skills, which are not taught in classrooms, as more emphasis is laid on rote learning. Employers are looking for individuals who will show a desire to continuously upgrade themselves professionally. Students must equip themselves with these skills in order to make themselves industry ready.

-Teamwork: Classrooms are all about individual performance but success in the corporate world depends on how effectively one can work in a team. This holds true for students across industries, and is not just restricted to engineering graduates. An individual, throughout his/her career, will have to work in teams and teamwork skills developed during the academic years can help students succeed.

- Networking: The most valuable skill possessed by any successful employee is the ability to network. Networking is free yet many invest little or no time on this activity. Joining forums online, interacting with students across the world, gaining membership to professional organisations also give students and professionals access to cutting-edge technical knowledge that will keep them updated and equipped to address the dynamic and evolving technology landscape.

- Ability to apply theory: Students must develop the ability to apply theory to practice, which requires a sharp focus on problem-solving in the most relevant areas of engineering that impacts people and society. Focussing on problem-solving, creativity and innovation that is relevant will help engineering students and professionals to contribute effectively to their organisations, as well as society at large.

It is surprising to note that while some of these points may sound obvious, many engineering graduates are unaware of these recommendations to help them succeed in the job market. It is important to reiterate these tips and focus on moving India’s youth population to become a more employable workforce.

(The contributor is country head, IET-India.)

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