Pursuing a degree in engineering in India is a story full of contradictions. Why do I say that?
Because growing up, every child in this country hears the grandeur of this field of study –
- The larger than life examples parents keep citing (Inke jaisa bano!),
- The wishful future it will offer (bas engineering kar lo…life set hai!), and
- The statistics that show the scope of having an engineering degree in the present climate.
And yet, the same engineers are the prime fodder for hilarious, often humiliating jokes.
Last week, we celebrated national Engineers’ Day and the internet flooded with congratulatory and appreciative messages. At the same time, hilarious memes at the expense of engineers stole the show even then.
Ironically, the same week the much-awaited JEE (mains) results were out and the outcome was staggering for candidates and audience alike – 44 scored 100 percentile and 18 shared the top position! That is indeed something to be proud of, especially for the candidates.
But the pride and happiness of this outcome are marred when you look at the 2019-2020 report of the All India Survey for Higher Education (AISHE). Engineering in India is the fourth popular stream – with 38.52 lakh students. The same report highlights that 80% of engineering graduates do not get employed in the tech sector.
The question that we need to ask is – How does engineering in India go from being a serious career pathway to not being taken seriously at all? Often even by engineers themselves.
Why Does Engineering in India Show Contradictory Results?
Enough Engineering Colleges – No Set Quality of Education
Perhaps engineering in India is one of the rare fields of education where there is no dearth of institutions – both public and private. And the list keeps growing every year.
What is lacking is not the brick n mortar walls or number of seats available (that too keeps increasing steadily). What is lacking is the technical and physical infrastructure needed to support the growing number of students entering these institutions.
What is also lacking is expert staff – both teaching and non-teaching.
What is most lacking is that there is no fixed quality of education across the country.
While there are thousands of colleges offering degrees in engineering in India, apart from IITs, and NITs and a handful of public and private colleges, the quality of education offered by many is ill-equipped to prepare students for life after leaving the campus. There is also no fixed curriculum structure that is followed by all these colleges.
So unless a student graduates with an engineering degree from one of the top colleges, their chances of getting ahead in a career path that is directly related to their area of study diminish significantly.
The Farhan Effect
We all remember Farhan from 3 Idiots, don’t we? An engineering student who aspired to be a wildlife photographer. I am sure most of us know at least one or two Farhans in our life – someone who is wildly passionate about something but instead is studying engineering.
Engineering in India is an aspirational career pathway. But unfortunately, very few of those who walk down this road truly aspire for it. The reasons behind this can be many – parental pressure, peer pressure, better and high paying job opportunities, a rosy picture of moving abroad, etc. But whatever the reasons might be, the consequences are devastating.
When the passion and aptitude of thousands of students don’t really align with the degree they are pursuing, isn’t the conclusion shown by the AISHE report inevitable?
Engineering Branch Selection Based on Ranking
Most colleges offering a degree in engineering in India do so through entrance tests. These tests are designed to assess students’ aptitude in three major subjects – Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. But these tests aren’t designed to assess candidates’ aptitude in specific branches of engineering.
Branch selection, once they qualify for the entrance exam, becomes a matter of chance based on ranking. While candidates ranking higher get the luxury of selecting a branch of their choice, not everyone gets that option. So somebody who might have an interest and aptitude for mechanical engineering won’t be getting the option of getting into the branch if his/her rank is lower.
At the same time, many high ranking candidates’ end up selecting branches they are not interested in just because it sounds more impressive or shows a better career prospect.
There is a simple solution to this problem – introducing a branch selector test to assess candidates’ interests and aptitude.
How to Solve the Crisis of Engineering in India?
There is a World Beyond an Engineering Degree!
Engineering in India is considered one of the elitist career prospects. It surely is – especially considering the opportunities it offers as India continues in its path of progress in the field of technology. But here’s the thing – tech is not the only growing industry. And engineering isn’t the only career path that will lead you to a brighter future.
So find a career that is aligned with your interests and aptitude – something that you are truly passionate about. Don’t be another Farhan!
Focus on Knowledge, Not on Campus Recruitments
This may sound contradictory when focusing on on-campus recruitments may seem like the obvious and simple solution for curbing unemployment. But it is hardly the best solution in the long run.
So much focus is put on those last few weeks of campus recruitment that the rest of the four years almost seem superfluous. And that’s an unfortunate situation that prevails in engineering colleges across the country. Knowledge shouldn’t have to take a backseat – it ought to be the road that paves the way towards better opportunities.
Career Counselling and Guidance: A Must-have for Students
The major part of the problem behind the paradoxical fate of pursuing engineering in India stems from a lack of career counselling and guidance.
From getting into engineering without having any interest in it to choosing the wrong branch or college, to wasting away vital years of college only to focus on getting placed in a white-collar job. All these problems can be easily solved if students are guided to make the right career choice when they are in high school!
If you too are thinking of pursuing engineering – don’t go into the path blindly. First, understand whether the career path is meant for you or not.