Last week, TOI stated what was being talked either in anecdotal fashion or in hushed whispers. The fresher hiring in the IT / ITES industry has slowed down considerably and will slow down even more (supply growing by 25% and demand slowing by 12%) putting enormous pressure on young engineering graduates who are expecting to pass out over the next couple of years.
After having met and interacted with several members of management, key members of faculty/Placement Officers & young engineering students, here are some observations of mine on the three key stakeholders:
- The state of affairs in engineering colleges is quite disturbing. Most colleges are in a state of “continual denial” and are hoping for the best. Other than cosmetic “skill up-gradation efforts" and "employability improvement" programs most managements are either clueless or resigned to status quo.
- The IT / BPO industry, to be fair has done a commendable job in adapting itself to the numerous bottlenecks in the talent landscape. The IT industry has invested extensively either on training and assessment in an academy-type of setting or in on-the-job orientation and mentorship. The entrepreneurship ecosystem also has been quite vibrant in the spectrum of opportunities such as "Upskilling”, “Employability” and “Assessment”.
- An average engineering student neither enjoys a supportive and warm academic environment nor does he have the gumption and skills to chart a course for himself. The average engineering graduate is truly caught like a “deer under headlight”.
With challenging times ahead for freshers, the educational management and the institutes need to act to assist engineering students:
- Engineering colleges should provide improved learning opportunities including internship (Here is an interesting portal for internship opportunities!!). Interestingly AICTE has announced that internship is mandatory for engineering students. The reality on the ground is that lofty policy decisions do not always get translated to effective actions on the ground. A case in point is the 'final year engineering project has led to a thriving market for 'ready to use' projects including synopsis, prototype/code and reports. This is a mockery of the system!!!
- Improved career counseling to set expectations of students. Most colleges are reluctant to communicate the realities of the job market to aspiring students. The colleges need to be 'real' about it and stop being 'larger than life' when it comes to placement opportunities.
- The IT industry has reached a stage where Indian companies are morphing their proposition to'Outcome based pricing', 'non-linear growth models' and 'automation'. Given the supply situation, they would prefer to hire engineering graduates with diverse skills and aptitude. Learning Labs' customers while evaluating our BestFit assessment service, are all planning assess engineering graduates for diverse skill-sets and competencies. The engineering colleges, instead of taking a 'assembly line approach' which is a low-touch approach of churning out large numbers of graduates need to transform their student handling ability to a 'medium touch, small group approach'.
A final word to aspiring engineering students and parents. The era of engineering education being the passport to a high paying IT industry job is over. I guess we are seeing the days of 'normalcy'. I recommend a 3-point agenda for engineering students to succeed as career engineers:
- Please stop being extra-dependent on your college to provide you the dream offer. You have a significant role to play and hence take charge of your career!!
- Be real while setting your expectations and be a part of the 'solution' rather than the 'problem'
- Invest your time in getting the best out of your college and through online resources like Coursera.