Several studies of engineering graduates across India reveal that a majority of them are unemployable as engineers, or to put it another way they are not “industry ready”. The words industry-ready carry the connotation that such an engineer, once employed, will more or less hit the ground running. Sadly a vast majority of Indian engineers don’t hit the ground running; rather they have to undergo significant training after being hired. Based on National Employability Report most Indian engineering graduates cannot write compilable code making it necessary for employers to conduct training programs for new recruits from universities.
However, the inability to write code isn’t the only obstacle standing in the way of Indian engineers. The problem runs much deeper and includes the fact that Indian engineers lack skills employers are generally looking for. Employers need effective communication skills to work in teams in the corporate setting. They also need superior learning skills, critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and technology-specific skills. Hence for Indian engineers to be Industry ready we need to transform the existing education system to teach and build the below skills-
Ability to become life-long learners
To succeed today engineers need to learn, unlearn, and relearn new skills. Technology is advancing so rapidly that technical skills mastered a decade ago are increasingly becoming outdated. Engineers need to become more adaptable and nimble if they expect to succeed professionally. For instance just 3 years ago, Indian IT majors were struggling because they had a large number of mid-level employees who didn’t have relevant skills for the job. Because of the paucity of right skills, Indian technology giants had fallen behind their overseas competitors. Many mid-level employees were let go as a reminder to professionals in India the importance of having robust skill sets and the need to continuously up-skill and re-skill.
The worlds complexity demands critical thinking skills
In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, solid critical thinking skills are essential. Without such skills, engineers cannot find solutions to challenging problems quickly. Solving problems one has never seen before demands evolved critical thinking faculties. The ability to anticipate such problems and deconstruct their foundation is crucial for success today. Such problems are more likely to arise today than ever before because the world is changing dramatically and dynamically.
Problem solving skills create disruption
The wave of successful start-ups is the result of disruption which itself is the product of individuals who invented a better way of doing things. Today’s economy is more robust than it ever was. Unlike in the past when it was possible to survive using tried and tested ways, to be successful today demands disrupting the market. Disruption is possible when an older way of doing things is re-examined and a better way is conceived. The ability to find a better way to do things is made possible with great problem-solving skills. When a new way of doing things is posited, it is bound to face obstacles, overcoming such obstacles demands good problem-solving skills.
Industry ready engineers need solid communication skills
Engineers generally don’t appreciate interpersonal and communication skills, yet to succeed, they have to develop superior interpersonal and communication skills. Without good communication skills, an engineer will find it difficult to articulate the right questions to understand the requirements and expectations. Also without good communication skills, an engineer won’t be able to communicate clearly with his team. Of all the skills an engineer needs to be industry-ready, good communication skills may be the most crucial yet the most underrated. Clarity of communication is a powerful component of interpersonal skills which everyone needs to learn to be able to work in a team.
Technical skills remain crucial
It’s only after employers are satisfied that candidates have the above-mentioned skills that they probe further and take it to evaluation of technical skills. Engineers need to have a hands-on knowledge of the technology area in demand and should be able to demonstrate it through a good portfolio. Some of the emerging technology areas as the world is becoming all digital are Web technologies, full-stack development, data science, machine learning, automation, information security, and cloud. It was the lack of the skills for one of the above technologies among many mid-level engineers that led to large scale layoffs in the Indian tech industry.
Any engineer having all the skills mentioned above is highly prized and valuable. As fresh engineering graduate having even 1 or 2 of the above-mentioned skills are astonishingly rare in India. Regarding engineers who possess all 5 skill sets mentioned above, the world is theirs for the taking and they can expect to have a long and promising career in the technology industry.
By Arman Ahmed, Co – Founder and CEO, EdYoda