So you are freshly out of college with an engineering degree in your hand, a sprint in your feet and a twinkle in your eye? Well, welcome to the harsh reality of the corporate world.
There are thousands of unemployed, unemployable engineers out there and every year thousands being added to this number as a number of engineering colleges churn out graduates with a degree but no expertise. Merely 18 to 20 % of engineering graduates are actually employable.
The problem lies with our education system which emphasizes on quantity rather than quality, theories rather than practical applications, traditional and obsolete courses rather than updated and revised curriculum.
As a result, where there is a dearth of professionals in IT and other industries, there is a dearth of jobs for engineering graduates who have spent four years waiting for something to happen as they walk out with their degrees in hand.
What is the Solution?
The institutions and employers have to work together and make changes to the curriculum so that it meets the needs of the industries. The institutions need to focus on quality on students rather than quantity. The traditional methods of teaching have to be done away with in this era of internet, information and technology. Professionals and experienced engineers from the industry should be included in the faculty or as special instructors so that the students get a real time experience and knowledge of the industry.
Where these changes needs to be applied to the education system as a whole, students can work on their part to make themselves employable in this competitive and fast changing economy. Here are some guidelines which can be followed to seek jobs as engineers:
- Score well: Your scores are your first impression (although both You and I would hate it!). Most of the companies filter out the resumes in the first stage comparing the scores. So, your obvious first step in getting a job as an engineer would be to score high marks in your exams.
- Bring originality to your resume: Most of the candidates prepare their resume looking at the resume of their seniors or friends or following the format given on internet. As a result, most of the resumes on the table of the HR manager look alike. Your resume should reflect your individuality and making it different would draw the attention of the employers.
- Get some training and practical experience: The projects and training modules that are done in engineering colleges are primarily useless and when the graduates look for jobs as freshers, they neither have skills nor confidence to carry out any project independently. You can pursue a free course at Coursera or take up online paid courses for web development or mobile app development where you can create a real world project. If you have time, it would be a good idea to join some company in your vacations to get real time experience and training.
- Build your expertise: the major trend among engineering students is joining short term courses and trying to collect more and more certificates during their vacations. As a result, what we get, are half-baked engineers who are neither good in their own discipline nor do they have in-depth knowledge in the courses they join. It is better to specialize in one particular field than being a jack of all trades. Determine your goal and work towards it.
- Stay informed: The economy is changing rapidly, so are the needs of the industry. You need to be aware of the current trends and requirements. Mere theoretical knowledge and academic skills will not help the graduates obtain employment. They have to acquire new skills to maintain their sustainability.
- Work on your confidence and communication skills: Honing up your communication skills is very important as it is as important to convince your employer about your skills as it is to develop your skills. Again, as an employment seeking graduate, you need to work on your confidence to impress your employer and to grab opportunities as they come by.
Without being preachier, I would like to say that most of the ideas listed above worked for me and my peers. It may be easy to blame the government for poor infrastructure or question the quality of teaching in the institutions. However, the real solution lies with each one of you and depends on how proactive are you are with your life. There is no dearth of jobs. All you need is to focus on your all round development as an engineer and jobs will follow you.
For Institutions and Government
Given the dearth of quality faculty and curriculum gap between Industry and Academia, Rajesh Kasturirangan in his article mentioned that Technology will be an answer to building capacity. He rightly pointed out that pure online MOOCs may not be a silver bullet for Higher Education. In addition to two suggestions by him (Training as industrial scale and central campus model), I have few more suggestions:
- Rich content vetted by Industry: eLearning content is one of the major contributors for driving online education. In order to steer student engagement and improve the overall learning experience, usage of rich content (with rich media content, indexed content) which is frequently updated by industry professionals will have an edge over static textbooks
- Analytics-driven platform: In order to focus on individualization and customized courses for students, the next generation of LMS platforms should run on artificial intelligence based predictive analytics which will be adaptive to a student’s lesson plan.
- Blended Learning: Blended Learning flips the present classroom setup where online MOOCs should be coupled with classroom sessions (physical or virtual). This would do away with the constraints of faculty.
- Enable faculty reach: The institutions should provide training sessions for teachers which would enable them to conduct online delivery/ virtual classes. These trained teachers can teach a larger number of students effectively.
It is time where we choose a learning-centric system rather than examination or assessment-centric system so that the learners are allowed to select subjects based on their interests and pursue it to completion. This will enhance the skills-based education delivery and drive true employability at scale.
[About the author: Rishabh Bhandari is the Co-Founder at Yoda Learning, a start-up focused on teaching in-demand technologies using projects (MOOCs) to people across the world to make them employable. Prior to this he was part of the Investment Team at an Education-focused fund. Rishabh is an avid traveler and a music enthusiast. You can reach him at rishabh(dot)bhandari(at)ymail.com]