Why aren’t engineers employable?

Why aren’t engineers employable?

During the 20th century, engineering education underwent an amazing transformation.

Despite exponential changes in technology around the world, the curriculum and practices in traditional engineering education in India have not evolved at the same pace like that of the industries. There is a big gap between what the industries need and what Indian education equips its future employees with. Hence, to upgrade and update the engineering college curriculum, industries must be involved to decide the curriculum and also to emphasise what aspects should be added to the curriculum to make it more relevant to the industry. After the recruitment of meritorious students by the multinational companies, many from the remaining engineering graduates are joining as faculty at engineering institutes. This is not owing to their passion of becoming teachers, but because they want to earn a livelihood. The teaching faculty is not comprised of the very best of the industries, who have the skills and ability to create brilliant students.

Today’s pedagogy is teacher-centred, not student-centred as it ought to be. The engineering curriculum is based on rote learning and regurgitation at the time of examination and not in acquiring practical knowledge. The ability to think critically and ask questions is very much required in engineering education. The engineering institutions mostly follow the traditional method of teaching. It is more of content delivery than knowledge delivery. Moreover, the evaluation system has not been made strong enough to find out the knowledge level of the students and hence the institutes are not producing graduates with high-level skills innovation quality.

Skill-based education is another immediate need. On the basis of the problems they are likely to encounter in the practical field, Engineering students need to have hands-on training. Engineers should be equipped with the right set of skills to improve their employability quotient in the fast-changing job market. Institutes should target education designed for the industries of the future rather than the industries of the past. Due to ease with which governments are according permission to little-known barely trained educational trusts to set up colleges, they have mushroomed across the state. Medical Professionals are only educated by institutions that have corresponding practising industry called a Hospital. But, most of the Indian Engineering Colleges are started without any affiliated industry, where the students can get practical training. Doctors, Lawyer and Chartered Accountants, all the three professions by design need to do an internship before they are officially allowed to practice their profession.

This experiential learning that is inherently expected and hence built into these professional programs ensures quality and relevant skill application of the talent. Engineering Graduates are missing the most important aspect of professional training called practicals.

Since English is the global language of business and indeed enterprise, it must be seen as a necessary skill. Many of the aspiring engineers hail from rural areas, where they studied in regional languages, lacked strong English skills. As the proper engineering education is in the English language, these students alongside many others have to confront similar problems.

The IT sector and other best-paid jobs in the country require employers who are fluent and well versed in English, as they would have to communicate with international customers. Thus, if the engineering graduates do not improve English skill, hiring for jobs in the IT sector and other jobs will also go down. India produces the maximum number of engineers in the world, but a majority of them are not employable.

Qualified engineers, unable to get employment in industries, are working in non-technical fields in spite of huge spending for their technical education. The problem of employability of engineers in India needs to be addressed at the college itself to improve their employability quotient otherwise the engineering graduates will continue to flood the job market but remain jobless.

There is an urgent need to address the problems of ailing technical education. India will otherwise miss the opportunity to utilize its demographic dividend of a young workforce which it often boasts, who can immensely contribute to the economic development of the country.

(The writer was the deputy director of Boilers and is now retired) 

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