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Engineering employability gap: Academia speaks out

Posted: 21 Jun 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:employability  engineering education  colleges  training  design engineer 

The electronics industry complains engineers graduating from many institutions are not ready for employment. The second part in a series of articles focused on the employability gap asks the academia to discuss the issues.

The industry and market analysts have been talking about a growing supply-demand gap for employable electronics engineers. EE Times-India started by asking industry and academia if they indeed see a problem and to give us their perspective from the trenches.

In the previous part of this series, we published the electronics industry's view of the issue. Executives stressed the need for practical training and focus on research, and felt that while the few top tier colleges in the country compared well with the best overseas, the next tier had a lot of catching up to do.

In this part, we bring you opinion from the academia and those who have worked in the sector. Subsequent parts in the series will focus on solutions.

The industry and analysts see a growing employability gap for graduating engineers. What is your opinion?

Krishna Vedula

Krishna Vedula, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Dean Emeritus of Francis College of Engineering at University of Massachusetts Lowell; former Executive Director of Indo-U.S. Collaboration for Engineering Education

Vedula: One of the key challenges we face is the rapid expansion of engineering educational institutions in India in recent years (from roughly 50,000 engineering seats per year in 1990 to almost eight lakh annual intake of engineering students today and increasing), which has created serious problems of maintaining quality engineering education and research to sustain and fuel economic growth in India itself.

M.P. Ravindra

M.P. Ravindra, Executive Director- IUCEE (India); Advisor-E&R, Infosys Technologies Ltd

The information technology revolution and the liberalisation of economies around the world have led to globalisation of the human resource pool for technology. U.S. and India are at the leading edge of this change. Research, development, innovation and entrepreneurship are increasingly carried out via cross-border initiatives involving both the academic and business communities. The need to innovate new technologies in collaboration with the users of the technologies has changed the workforce needs of the business world, while the aptitude and talent of the future workforce have changed radically as a consequence of easy access to digital and communications technologies. Although engineering educational institutions in U.S. and India are responding to these changes, many of them are inhibited by traditional approaches to teaching and research.

Engineering education needs to pay more attention to the development of innovation, entrepreneurship and the ability of its graduates to function in a constantly changing global environment. The future of the U.S. technical workforce is challenged by the lack of interest and preparation among its youth for science and engineering careers. At the same time, India has a large number of youth with strong math and science skills interested in engineering careers, but limited by inadequately trained faculty, poor facilities and limited research in a majority of its engineering colleges.

[With inputs from M.P. Ravindra, executive director, IUCEE and advisor for Education and Research at Infosys Technologies Ltd]

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