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India's engineering employability gap: Industry outlines issues

Posted: 26 May 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:employability  engineering education  colleges  training 

The growing Indian electronics industry has placed new demands on engineering education. The first article in a series focused on the employability gap asks the industry to highlight the issues.

Over 2,300 engineering education institutions are estimated in India adding over 6 lakh graduates annually. C.S. Jha, former director at IIT-Kharagpur says in the report, Profile of Engineering Education in India, that while there has been a significant growth in the student intake—about 80 per cent during the Tenth Five Year Plan—the demand from the industry is rapidly outstripping supply. The Indian electronics industry's growth has also driven its evolution towards higher quality and sophistication. That has placed new requirements on graduating engineers.

EE Times-India asked academics and executives to give engineers their perspective from the trenches where education is imparted and hiring is initiated. This, the first in a series of articles, asks the industry to highlight the issues.

How do you see the supply demand gap for employable electronics engineers?

Jaswinder Ahuja

Jaswinder Ahuja, Corporate Vice President & Managing Director, Cadence Design Systems (I) Pvt. Ltd

Ahuja: Talent is of essence in a knowledge-intensive sector like electronic design. India produces a large number of electronics and computer science graduate engineers every year. So, while there is no dearth of manpower, the challenge is finding "design aware" engineers who are trained specifically in VLSI design and can ramp up quickly. Getting fresh graduates ramped up quickly to productivity is a key concern across the industry ecosystem as new graduates sometimes take six months to a year to be productive. Simply put, the industry is facing a "quality gap" with regard to talent.

One reason for this gap is a fundamental lacuna in the engineering education framework. This is the only profession where an individual goes from an academic programme directly into a job, with no prior on-the-job training. All other fields of study require an individual to have a six-month to a year-long apprenticeship or internship before they start doing a real job. Ideally we should overhaul engineering education and make it five years by including a mandatory six-month to one-year apprenticeship.

There are several lessons we can learn in India from educational institutions abroad—providing industry training, focusing on quality over quantity, focus on research, and encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset.

International comparison
University education in developed countries is very industry oriented and one that emphasizes practical training, as opposed to a largely theory-focused system followed in Indian engineering colleges. Avenues that provide access to real-time work situations for students, such as internships and apprenticeships, should be an integral part of the curriculum.

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