Qualified but unemployable: The State of engineers in India
Naman Subramanian (name changed) completed his B.Tech (ECE) from Tier-2 Engineering College. After unsuccessfully looking for an engineering job for over a year, he began preparations for the Bank Clerical Officers’ exam. Presently, even though he is a qualified engineer, he works in a non-technical field in Syndicate Bank . His parents spent almost ₹5 lakhs on the B.Tech course, which they would have saved had he sat for the probationary officers’ exam right after graduating from any college.
Indore-based Sushant Sharma (name changed) faced similar problems after graduating from NIT. During campus placement, companies did offer him jobs but salaries were not lucrative. Looking at this friend being placed for packages like 7–9 LPA, he decided to look for jobs outside the campus placements. After 8 months of struggle, he realized that his existing skills may not land him his desired package, thus he decided to take up a training module online and learned Mean Stack development. Today, he is working at a startup working as a full-time web developer and earns his desired package.
Jobs in India: the story of struggling engineers of India
The above situation has become relatable and prevalent among many aspiring engineers in the country. Graduates who fail to get engineering jobs often change their job streams and are forced to take up additional courses in order to be relevant according to the demand of the market. For students growing up in India, engineering is one of the most sought after career path. Lucrative salary packages ( from top tier engineering colleges that make the headlines of national dailies ) appeals to students.
Many starts to prepare to fulfill their aspirations by joining coaching centers. Once accepted in an engineering college, they pack all their dreams and start to work towards their job goals. After the course of four years, when the reality kicks in, students realize the vicious cycle they have been caught in. It is mostly seen that students realize that they are unemployable only in the final year of their four-year course. This is when they gear up to look outside and realize that the lack of skills: skills that are imperative for getting an engineering job. By the time they sit to brush and polish their employability skills, unemployment settles in the system. Observing the career paths that students undertake in India, Engineering has become the de-facto graduate degree for the majority of students today. With such a big workforce of engineers in India, what has created this mess?
Why are there so many engineers in India?
With India trying to achieve the status of a developing nation, the 80’s sawed an increase in a number of factories and the manufacturing sector saw phenomenal growth. Be it the automobile industry or the electronics industry, there was massive growth all around with a clear direction towards economic growth. With the LGP policy introduced in the ’90s along with the relaxation of norms on the subject of foreign companies investing in India gave another push and suddenly everyone wanted engineers to complete tasks. The first wave of the IT boom suddenly created a demand for computer engineers. At breakneck speed, colleges began mushrooming around the country and without analyzing the demand and supply clause, engineering began to be thrust down the throats of students. The country has reached a phase now wherein every fourth person in the 22-to- 26 years age group is an engineer.
Too many engineers, very few have engineering jobs
According to a recently conducted survey, nearly 80 percent of engineering graduates in India are not employable. Most of them are forced to take up jobs in non-engineering fields or remain unemployed. One of the major reasons for this is a large number of engineering colleges in India and their poor academic infrastructure. There are 10,396 AICTE approved engineering colleges, the majority of the engineers produced by these colleges are unemployed. The major concern is the outdated coursework. More importantly, the coursework isn’t jobbing centric.
“However, along with improving the education standards, it is quintessential that we evolve our undergraduate programs to make them more job-centric.”
Most of the engineering colleges continue to impart knowledge that has very less relevance given the demand of the industry.
Engineering jobs have changed over time, so has the industry demand for skills in engineers in India
Though the supply and demand curve is positive, keeping in mind the number of job opportunities and workforce to fill it, many are still failing to bridge the gap of unemployability. One of the major concerns that get highlighted with this is the quality of engineers produced in the country. Given the historical context, the main focus was to increase the number of engineers rather diverting from producing quality engineers. This has come to bite us in the present market where skills restricted to the degree are not treated as credentials. Even though it may be a prerequisite for the career paths, but at the end of the day, the lines on your degrees or certifications do not count for your competency if you are not able to reproduce productivity for the companies. At present, hiring companies look for engineers that can be productive from the first day. Earlier companies hired engineers and then trained them to work on proprietary technologies, this trend is slowly fading away. Companies are looking to save training costs and rather look to invest them in the salary packages offered to their employees.
“The current, fast-paced market environment needs a higher degree of responsiveness. We expect engineers now to get on the job with minimal training, unlike in the past, when long training periods after joining the company were the norm,” read an article published by the Hindu Businessline.
How is the Indian industry bridging the demand- supply gap of skilled engineers?
Last year, the Government of India launched Swayam, a MOOC platform in order to recognize the gap between the education system and the need to re-skill individuals of the country. Following this initiative, multiple online platforms have come up in order to bridge this gap by offering additional but focused skill training as per the requirement of the industry. With technological advancements being the driving force for the increasing number of engineering jobs. Most academic institutions fall short on imparting the skills that the industry looks to hire for. As India progresses, the onus of building a skilled workforce lies with the engineering colleges as much as with the young and aspiring graduates.
“Most important, there are disruptive changes in business models every five years. However, the curriculum and practices in institutes have not kept pace, rendering them irrelevant. Not all engineering institutes are making that extra effort to equip the students for modern organisations,” states, Stephen Sudhakar J, Senior Vice-President–HR & GS, Hyundai India.
With knowledge being restricted to degrees, it is a big hardship that an engineer faces to find a desirable job in addition to the constant struggle previously made to join such institutions. With a pathway that showcases a secured future for many, it is highly saddening how such dreams are treated for personal gains by these institutions. It is highly important for us to realize this lacuna in the system and work towards projecting a safer and a promising future for young aspiring minds.
Following the initiative started by the Govt. of India towards empowering professionals through re-skilling methods, we at edWisorhave taken progressive steps to address this issue. Other than being an online platform that is readily accessible, we constantly evolve our training module by constant insights from the industry and adapting to its demands. With projects being an integral and compulsory aspect in order to complete the training, we also deploy case studies between the trained candidates and industry professionals to keep our candidates updated with the technological trends. The major lacuna that we aim to fulfill is making candidates job-ready and aim to certainly close the gap of unemployability in India.