The truth about campus placements

The truth about campus placements

The curriculum needs to be outcome-based, where the outcome includes required job-skills.

Engineering was considered India’s’ golden peacock as the country provided the world with luminous minds to empower their infrastructure, machinery and economy. Placements were aplenty as Indian Institutes of Technology and other institutes provided students with access to the best education, with the choicest jobs to follow.

Alas, times are changing for the worse as the majority of engineering graduates are languishing to get employment and the baggage of education loans going up to several lakhs. As per the Higher Education report by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Ernst and Young,  99% of MBA graduates and 80% of engineering graduates in India are not employable.

These numbers are not just a reflection of the present state of employability in the country, but also that of the quality of education that is doled out in batches, for years after years.

Striking reality

The state of education is deplorable as institutes fail to arm students with the right kind of practical and industry-related knowledge and hence, the unemployment. Students are faring poorly at interviews, with nearly 27% of the engineers failing even to pass a job interview. An outdated curriculum, inadequate infrastructure and poor quality of faculty combined with old delivery platforms make it difficult to equip students with relevant skills.

As mentioned before, times are changing. In terms of employability, the shift from degrees to employability is met with a roadblock called placement and there’s a conflicting pattern that one can see. While industry complains that over 80% of engineering graduates are unemployable, universities and colleges boast that more than 90% of their students are placed — a disparity that dismays all. Here are a few statistics, conducted for the National Employability Report that portrays the plight of our engineers:

Only 3.84% of engineers are employable in software-related jobs at start-ups.

Around 3% of engineers possess new-age skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data engineering and mobile technologies. On an aggregate level, employability in these areas is around 1.5-1.7%.

A much higher percentage of Indian engineers (37.7%) cannot write error-free code, as compared to China (10.35%). Only 40% of engineering graduates end up doing an internship and 36% do a project beyond coursework.

Of course, thousands of youngsters are being trained and yet, they do not possess the necessary skills. While the syllabus of other countries is industry- oriented, our engineers require additional training due to the lack of congruency between industry and education. The scramble to get students placed is another issue. 

Settling for any and every job or digressing to other sectors is the new norm among these jobless techies. Most engineering graduates are “placed” into internships that require as much as a year of training with an average package. Most of these interns end up in IT service or support jobs, which form the majority of the lower-slab job roles.

While these are good and necessary jobs, they don’t suit the stature and knowledge of Computer Science (CS) graduates. Only about 5% of CSE graduates get placed in highly skilled CS jobs. Thus, capabilities are lost in the flurry to bag just any job, creating a sense of despondency and resentment.

The industry has been asking universities and colleges to make 'job-readiness' an educational outcome for a long time now, but universities and colleges must be thinking that having a placement rate greater than 90% means they are meeting the industry needs. How else can we explain the continuing high-level of unemployable graduates reported by industry?

Reconciliation of sorts

Naturally, a reconciliation of sorts is required to uplift the situation. To understand what is happening with placements, one needs data on university or college engineering graduates. What happens to them when they graduate, and where are they after 2, 5 or 10 years of passing college? This data would measure if the graduates are actually 'job-ready', and would provide valuable feedback on what the university or college can do to tackle the problem of unemployable engineering graduates. 

Also, the key is to consider job placements as slabs, and not as a single job placement, where apt skilling and education is necessary to move ahead in the ranks. Having practical skills in the 21st century, especially on the grounds of technical specialisations such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics, mobile applications etc, has actual implications as it helps graduates to achieve higher initial packages and get a promising start to their career. The curriculum needs to be outcome-based, where the outcome includes required job-skills. 

Keeping both of the above solutions in mind, we can elevate the state of employment to new heights.


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