Engineering Education in India: Current Realities
Whenever I try to imagine an engineering student in India, the mental imagery that flashes in my mind at once is that of Hercules shouldering the earth. Oscillating between the dreams of parents and the societal pressure, every engineering student confronts a Herculean task both academically and psychologically. What does their toil for four years fetch them at the end? It is obvious that the mind sets of parents and students coincide in the idea of getting a job that offers a five digit salary, no matter how remote is the job offer from their core field. Irrespective of the many branches of the engineering stream, except a few none bother to switch streams to grab a job offer with tempting salary package.
High school pupils in his/her pursuit of landing in their dream job have to pass two stages. First, their four years to be spent in one of the umpteen engineering colleges to walk out with a degree and next the interview panel of any company to walk out with an offer letter.
Education is one of the best businesses in the current Indian scenario. The immense interest in engineering courses among Indian parents was aptly followed by the mushrooming engineering colleges in the past decade. Except a handful, the histories of majority of engineering colleges in India span not more than 15 years. Now that the school final results are published, the newspapers and magazines would in the coming days be filled with advertisements of various colleges. Invariant pf all these ads we could see two things highlighted. They are the pass percentage of their current year students and the placement details of the final year students who batched out that year. Both these talk about the credentials and academic excellence of the institution which the parents are keen to know.
Indian education system is swarmed with a wide variety of curricula most of which are designed to excel with rote learning. The pupils trained in an education system like this are capable of memorizing chunks of information but only a creamy layer of them have applicative skills, which is the prime requisite of the recruiting companies. Any one with a gifted memory and ability to rote learn any amount of data can pass out an engineering degree with distinction. The scored marks or percentages can never be considered as a true measure of intelligence. In India we don’t really face unemployment but what we actually face is the ‘unemployable’ problem. Current studies reveal that only about 15-25 % of the Indian engineering grads are employable, having the skill sets that employers look for.
You might level the argument quoting the placement percentages that every collage proudly boasts each year. Almost three quarters of the placements of very institution are from the IT companies. Everyone get to know about the placements of freshers in these companies. But how many of them sustain in these companies? That is something we never get to know. In various companies many of these fresh recruits struggle to survive. Companies who initially recruit in bulk have their own strategies of selecting the best among the lot. Among the rest the mediocre are bench listed and the inefficient are terminated. The terminated folks settle in smaller companies, with lesser salary packages, for their profile now has a few months of work experience on a top company as credit.
Irrespective of the core fields grads of every engineering field end up as IT professional giving way to the high salary bait it throws. After working for a year or so, the skill sets one groomed as a student for his/her core field get totally replaced by the skill sets imbibed for IT profession, probably acquired during the training period of about 2-6 months. So even if one wishes to switch back to their core field it becomes impossible over years.
Even the top companies are willing to recruit fresh graduates. There are two prominent reasons behind this. Psychologically a youngster’s loyalty for his company will be at its peak during the initial years. The company’s welfare will take the front seat no matter if it demands compromising the personal welfare. This attitude is the fresher special. Besides, the commitment to this degree comes at a lower payment- compared to their senior counterparts. After extracting the work from the human resource, at a stage the companies think they are done with them, the treatment one could expect is nothing less that what we do with juiced out molasses.
In any field the success trumpet is blown at full volume while the melancholies go unheard. All the dreaming parents and their folks hear are the loud trumpets. The core intention of this two part article is to show an engineering aspirant about the realities — plain and frank — so that they might design their years in colleges to hone the skills that will fetch them a guaranteed future rather than giving way to attractive ads of the institutions, which might only fetch them just a degree worth for nothing. Be wise and choose wise.