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Engineering-  A Synonym to Struggle

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By: Shakir Nisar

I passed class 10th in 2008 and was looking for options for further studies. Different people put forward different options to opt for but being extra good at mathematics, I chose Non Medical stream to go with. After passing class 12th, I wanted to opt out of science and choose geography for further studies. I had a special liking for geography and loved to know about the physiology of India and the world. But then I was doped by a dialogue, “ENGINEERING KARLO, BAHUT SCOPE HAI”. I appeared in JKCET, qualified and got admission in an affiliated college of Kashmir University for Electronics and Communication Engineering and then the real struggle started. At that time, Engineering was the first choice of every second young girl or boy in India particularly in Kashmir.

Here in Kashmir, parents wanted you to be either a doctor or an engineer without caring for what you are capable of doing. Those who couldn’t qualify shifted to Punjab and other states to complete the course. During my course, I learnt everything but engineering. An engineering student in India faces a lot of difficulties which count to his failure later on. Only a few engineering colleges in India (IITs, some NITs and some affiliated colleges) ensure proper training and internship for their students to bridge the skills gap.  Other colleges fall behind in providing technical skills, logical ability, quantitative ability & essential communication skills to their students. Currently in the country, there is a serious dearth of well educated, reliable, qualified and sound educators.

Holding a PhD in the subject doesn’t suffice. One has to keep up with industry standards and demands as well. The faculty of Engineering College is the biggest pull for students who wish to do a B. Tech that helps them evolve and grow in global industry. Furthermore, Most of the engineering colleges in India doesn’t update the syllabus and continue to ignore the industry demands and follow just the old patterns and pedagogy. An engineering student has to pass almost 50+ subjects during the four year course to be awarded a degree. Most of the colleges in India don’t have sophisticated labs to carry out the mini projects and work on any prototypes. The students are forced to carry out the project work from outside the college which results in students buying the tailor made projects from the market. The lack of technical skills adds up to the failure of these students in getting a job. Technical subjects require that students understand, get familiar and exposed to examples of the use of engineering principles as applicable in real life. Unfortunately, this exposure is very limited at present.

India has the largest numbers of engineers as well as the largest number of engineering education institutes and infrastructure in the world. As of 2021, India annually produces fifteen lakh engineering graduates. India’s technical education infrastructure includes 2500 engineering colleges, 1400 polytechnics and 200 schools of planning and architecture. Of these hundred thousand engineering graduates produced every year, less than 5% of the engineers are produced by the pan-India national level autonomous institutes created by the acts of parliament, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs). The remaining over 95% of the engineering graduates are produced by the private and non-autonomous state level engineering education institutes which must obtain the approval from the regulatory authority All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to run such courses before they start admitting students. According to a recent NASSCOM 2019 survey, only 15% are getting jobs in the core engineering industry.

The Govt. of J&K has also been lenient in fulfilling the demands of these engineering graduates. A very few posts are being advertised from time to time with larger halts. The students have to go through a cut throat competition to get a job. Talking about myself, I have graduated in 2016 and since then JKSSB haven’t advertised any considerable number of JE posts in Electrical Engineering. The same is the case with Computer Science Engineering and other branches. A very few posts are being advertised for Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering but as compared to the saturation in these branches, the posts are very few.

Now, during last 3 to 4 years, the excitement of doing an engineering course has started to fade. Initially, engineering stream was the top choice, then it came to stagnation and now it has started facing a decline in terms of students enrolling in UG courses. The need for engineering solutions will never vanish, but it can be said that the era of engineering is slowly coming to an end.  The credit goes to the quantum of unemployment faced by the engineering graduates.

The author is a Vocational Trainer at Govt. Boys High School Gariend Budgam and can be mailed at [email protected]

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