Few weeks ago I had attended a seminar on the topic of structural changes in curriculum for enhancing employability through skill development in PLM conducted by a reputed company. As our state technical university was the co-organizer, members of all the Board of Studies were invited to attend.
The point raised by the representative from the company was that in today’s world of recession, lay offs and cut backs, industries don’t want to spend on training and want engineering graduates who know the work for which they have been selected. As the company is well known for their CAD/CAM softwares, he talked about the scope of CAD/CAM which is huge in manufacturing and automobile industries. A student well versed in CAD/CAM is more than welcome in many such industries. Their aim through this seminar was to promote the inclusion of those skills in the teaching curriculum which would make the student industry ready and thus increase his employability.
McKinsey Global Institute survey results: India produces 360,000 engineering graduates, 600,000 graduates in arts/science/commerce. 25% of engineering graduates and 10% of other graduates are employable. 5000 persons are registered for Ph. Ds in science and engineering but only 100 persons complete them successfully every year.
I feel the presenter made the mistake of starting the seminar with a presentation on their software products. By the time of the first break, most of the people were feeling that the seminar is more of an advertisement platform and the representatives were marketeers for the company. People from hard core engineering branches especially the old ones like mechanical, electrical and civil have no idea about PLM. And that included me!! I think they should have started first with the relevance and context of the seminar topic!!
Anyway moving on, some interesting dialogues made me write this post.
# The presenter suggested the idea of including the CAD/CAM softwares and special modules as a part of the curriculum. He also suggested that the subjects can be better understood if students are shown the virtual simulation of working and design of the various things they study.
A professor said “what will be the use? Will they help score more marks in exam? what is their importance from exam point of view?”
# The company had brought a guy who was a pass out from one of the pvt engineering colleges in this state and obtained a certification from the company. He told the audience of his interest in design field and of the investment of time and money he had to make after getting degree in order to learn CAD/CAM and get a job. He said it would have been better if he had learned these during the four years of his B.E. and not spend extra time and money.
Another professor got up and took the microphone from the guy and said – “It is not our responsibility to take care of each and every student’s interest and teach all of them as per that. Already a student has to give around 40 papers during his B.E. Can you imagine the number of papers if all these are included in the curriculum? It is not possible for any college or university to cater to every student so that they can pursue their interests and get jobs in their desired fields”
Almost all of the audience applauded this professor.
But I beg to differ.
The audience consisted of all the policymakers, curriculum makers, lecturers, professors and principals of different engineering colleges. Most of the people were quite old who follow and believe in traditional pattern of teaching. They belong to the old school who measure the importance of any subject or any academic thing in terms of the marks it will help to score. But I think engineering is quite a dynamic field, one in which demands of the present world influence both the teaching methods and the curriculum.I have just 5 yrs experience in this profession but I am confident enough to refute my esteemed seniors’ view that it is not the institution’s responsibility to look after every student’s personal interest. If you are giving admission to the student then it is your responsibility that the finished product i.e. the student here, is able to get a job in the market. It will increase the reputation of your institution and also help in getting admissions next year especially when there is an engineering colleges boom! Just setting up a training and placement department is not enough!!
The study ‘Employability Skill Index’ was done by PurpleLeap, a talent management institute, among 9,000 students across 95 colleges in the country, including 600 students from 15 engineering colleges in Andhra Pradesh. 36% of the students fail on all major skill counts – communication, problem solving and technical skills. Only 7% found employable when all factors are considered
Why are there elective subjects in the final year of B.E.? The reality in most colleges in my state is that students don’t have the freedom to choose the elective subject they want to study. Instead they have to study the subject whose teacher can be provided by the college. Further I don’t think including any skill development subject will increase the load on the student. He/she will have the freedom to choose which skill development subject to study and there should be no theory paper/exam of that subject. We need to come out of the mindset that only a theory exam can evaluate the understanding of a subject by the students. If he/she is interested in any subject, he/she will obviously work hard in that subject and also grasp it quickly and effectively.
According to a survey, jointly carried out by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the World Bank, 64 percent of surveyed employers are “somewhat”, “not very”, or “not at all” satisfied with the quality of engineering graduates’ skills.
Being an engineering graduate once and now a cog in the wheel of engineering education, I can safely say that most of the engineering colleges [private colleges which are more in number] impart only the theory to the student, not the practical application. If that wasn’t so, then why would every company be it BHEL or Larsen & Tourbo or Infosys spend so much time and money on training new recruits? It is not a surprise that many companies find engineering graduates unemployable. To tackle this problem we must adopt the new school of thoughts and change the age old ways of imparting technical education to suit the demands of today’s employers; because the aim of any institution should be to aid a student’s life cycle from the time of admission to getting employed.