Engineering as a profession is losing its shine

engineering students

What once glittered is no more gold. Of course I’m talking about engineering as a profession. Almost every third guy you find is sure to be pursuing engineering or has already done so. India produces closer to a million engineers yearly. The popularity of courses can be acknowledged by the huge turnout of aspirants for JEE main and many other entrance tests for admission to any engineering institution in the country. Around 13 lakh students take country’s biggest engineering entrance test- JEE each year alone, so now you know how it is.

Moreover, the jobs that were meant to be for professional engineers in previous years, can now be done by diploma holders and the MNCs are happy with that as diploma holders work on a comparatively low salary. It’s hard to say whether engineering has become a coherent path or an incoherent one. So how did it become so?

Engineering is/was the holy grail of education in India. The IT boom of mid 90s and the ensuing influx of MNCs gave rise to a burgeoning middle class which got hooked to the lucrative job prospects offered by these new fangled technology giants.

The success stories of locally bred firms such as Infosys, Wipro, TCS and Satyam among few, in the catena of long line of entrepreneurship, gave to Indians a new hope in a country whose youth beginning with their student life were fed with the never fading glitter of security offered by the government jobs. But the intense pressure and competition in public sector meant that only the fittest could survive, leaving the pullulating hordes of graduating class at the mercy of private players.

But then came the IT boom. With a vast pool of English taught engineering graduates ready to jump the gauntlet at far less price than their American and European counterparts, the world took notice the MNCs were quick to realize the potential. Thus began the incoming of jobs from companies like Oracle, Google, Accenture, Cisco and others in form of outsourcing, development and other business models, of which Indians readily took advantage of.

However, now the glitter seems to be saturating and engineering, as the regnant of education for the Indian middle class appears no more to be the tour de force of sector which it had ruled undisputedly once. This fact can be easily ascertained from a growing number of vacancies of seats in various engineering colleges across the country. Right from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra to colleges in South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are witnessing their own recession.

Various factors can be ascribed to this steep fall from graces for this once booming sector. Commercialization of education without due diligence in maintaining adequate standard remains at the fore. For an instance, according to a survey by NASSCOM, only 17.5 percent of graduates in software sector were found to be employable and the IT industry had to spend 1 billion USD to make them job ready. According to Raju Davis Pare Padan, Chairman of Kerala based HolyGrace Academy which runs engineering college, “almost 70 percent of engineering colleges in India provide poor quality of education”.

The crème de la crème of engineering education are still the select few passing out of the IITs, some NITs and few private colleges like BITS Pilani, and AICTE seems to have fallen short of its duty of maintaining the adequate standards which could acts as benchmark for lesser known colleges. Aside IITs, NITs, IIITs, IISERs and few other colleges, as much as 90% seats are going vacant in many universities and colleges.

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