Higher Education

Majority of engineering graduates not employable: Experts

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India awarded 2.3 lakh engineering degrees in 2006, but only a small fraction of these engineers are actually employable by industry, leading education experts and industry executives said.

A majority of these graduates come from tier-III and tier-IV colleges, which have very poor infrastructure, they added. On the other hand, tier-I and tier-II colleges, namely the IITs, IISc and the NITs produce, less than 1% of engineering graduates, 20% M.Techs and 40% PhD in India, said Prof Rangan Banerjee of IIT Bombay at a panel discussion on 'India's leadership in manufacturing role of engineering education' in Mumbai.

The discussion was based on the report 'Engineering education in India' written by Banerjee and Prof Vinayak Muley of IIT Bombay and sponsored by Observer Research Foundation. This has created a dearth of engineers for Indian industries, he added. However, industrialists on the panel said that the numbers apart, the skill level of these individuals also did not match industry requirements. 'There are many engineering graduates from tier-III and tier-IV colleges that one has never heard of and they are not employable according to industry standards because of poor skills. However, this can be overcome by setting up more polytechnics across the country and encouraging students to pursue a diploma.' said advisor to the national HRD network of India Vivek Paranjpe.

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He believes that a diploma will create better job market for the youngsters, who can fill lower positions requiring skilled labour for electrical, plumbing, etc, by the industries. Most engineering graduates from a C-grade college are not employed in a hi-tech job and in the process of finding the 'right job' they shift jobs constantly, Mr Paranjpe added.

On the other hand, JK Tandon , Director (Projects) JSW Steel said that the interaction between faculty, students and the industry was needed at regular intervals. The institution could help in the holistic development of the student preparing him or her for a hands-on job in the industry. Industries must set up a research centre or sponsor certain departments and students to work on projects, giving them a first-hand feel of the job, he said.

'Money is an important incentive for the students while applying for a job. A chemical engineer prefers a finance job over an industrial job, as the software companies are willing to pay more,' said Prof Deepak Pathak of IIT Bombay.

Even a topper will prefer to switch gears to a financial or consulting firm as the monetary prospects are higher here. As Indian engineering companies are now competing with other global leaders in the field of automobiles, chemical, telecom and engineering equipment , the demand for a highly skilled graduate is increasing. And the search for one, beyond the tier-1 and tier-2 is not an option until the low-rung colleges are on par with industrial standards, the experts agreed.

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