Engineer’s Day is being observed in India today to pay a tribute to one the brightest minds the country has ever seen. Widely known as the ‘Father of Engineering’, Sir M Visvevaraya’s 157th Birth Anniversary is being celebrated today. Engineering is one of the noblest professions and widely sought after fields in India for its captivating career prospects. However, recent surveys and reports seem to suggest that the quality of engineers that the country is producing off late is nowhere near the standards required in current times. Engineering students seem to lack the skill-set and value required for engineering jobs in India and abroad as of now.
A survey conducted by Aspiring Minds states that most engineers in India are not ‘Industry Ready’ and out of more than 6,00,000 engineers that are introduced into the economy each year, merely 18.43 percent are ready to be deployed as Software Engineers in the IT Services industry. What’s more worrying is the number drops to as low as 3.21 percent for IT product roles. IT industry is also witnessing a boom in technologies like artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning, an in depth knowledge of which engineers in India seemingly lack.
In addition to the report, an opinion piece by Pradipto Chakrabarty Regional Director, CompTIA India, also says that Indian engineering students “are rarely found employable and lack many of the cognitive accomplishments acquired by similarly placed peers in the Westerns world as well as growth economies such as China or Russia.” Mr Chakrabarty also mentions that most of the works outsourced to India were rather mundane and mechanical processes and at the bottom of the pyramid tasks, which did not involve creativity and “thinkability”.
When DataQuest attempted to find out the reason for lack of ‘Industry Ready’ skills in engineering graduates; barring those who pass out from a few premier institutes like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), National Institute of Technology and few private institutions, an accomplished professor from the teaching industry poised valid arguments.
Why Colleges in India Are Not Able to Provide Industry Relevant Skills to Engineers?
A lot of private engineering colleges have mushroomed over the years, and their main aim seems to be running a business rather than producing quality engineers, which may be the main cause of this problem, feels Mr Ajey SNR, Associate Professor and Head, Electronics and Communication Department, PES IT College, Bengaluru. In order to impart quality education to students, the faculty needs to be good and these universities need to also pay the teachers well, he says.
Furthermore, in western countries like the US, the “cream layer” of engineers get into teaching and the remaining go for industry jobs, which is the main reason for their education system to be good. However, in India it is the opposite with engineers opting for teaching jobs as the last resort. Students too need to pursue the engineering courses only if he/she is passionate about it rather than blindly going with the trend, adds Mr Ajey SNR.
While agreeing with the fact that syllabus in Indian engineering colleges may need to be changed to make engineers industry ready, Mr Ajey stated a well founded reason for why ML, DL and AI training could not be introduced earlier. “Artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning require a large amount of labeled data, which was not available 20 years ago. However, it can be done now as there is a vast amount of labeled data available with the advent of social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others,” he said.
Also, faculty and students lack basic mathematical skills and pattern recognition required for engineering jobs, which need to be imparted in colleges, he added. Furthermore, unlike other topics in engineering , ML demands solid theoretical knowledge. Therefore a pragmatic approach, or a top down approach is not recommended, according to Mr Ajey.
Fixes and Solutions that Need to be Brought about in the Indian Educational System
What PESIT is doing and other engineering colleges can follow is, firstly interested students can be provided with extra skills that are unavailable in the syllabus during semester breaks or even after college to make them industry ready. Secondly, professors can try to convince students to take up further studies from premier institutes before taking up job offers to increase their skill-set and value. And lastly, motivate students with names of eminent engineering personalities. “Everyone today knows a ‘Tendulkar’ or ‘Model’s name’ but nobody knows notable personalities in the engineering field,” said Mr Ajey SNR on a lighter note.
He also added that gradually change is now being brought about in the syllabus to accommodate skills needed for AI, ML and DL. “Some private institutions are mimicking premier institutes like IITs, Stanford and MIT, which isn’t necessarily bad as they are imparting knowledge required for current engineering jobs,” said Mr Ajey. Additionally, both theoretical and practical knowledge regarding AI, ML and DL must be imparted to students in the form of projects, he adds. There is a need for students to be receptive as well instead of just sticking to syllabus oriented work. More so, because while working there is no “in syllabus or out of syllabus,” he said.
To conclude, after reading both the industries’ and educational institutions’ point of view on the topic, what do you as viewers have to say about this issue? Do let us know in the comment section below.