Employability Of Prospective Engineering Graduates

By Sriram BS

At present, not all prospective graduates, particularly engineering graduates, are able to find gainful employment on account of lack of desired skills as reported in various surveys.

However, these surveys do not mention which of the desired skills is lacking in the graduates. In grappling with this situation, it is appropriate here to point out that the students come into institutions with various levels of aptitudes owing to different factors. These aptitudes are further influenced by the way students respond to the conventional learning process applied to deliver prescribed curriculum. If we go by the dictum, ‘aptitude begets skills’, we have to consider the development of aptitude for acquiring requisite skills. Traditionally and quite broadly professional skills have been classified as hard (domain) skills and soft skills. This categorization is from the point of view of the industry and not from the point of view of an educational institution. Hence, there is a discord between the education sector that trains students and the industries that seek to employ them.

An alternative approach provides a new perspective and at once may suggest novel ways to kindle interest in trainers and students alike, while delivering advantage to the industry.

Every teacher in a classroom typically experiences three categories of students

(a) asks a lot of questions in the classroom to understand the subject

(b) hangs onto every word the teacher speaks and bonds well with the teacher

(c) does homework happily and seeks guidance from the teacher in correcting their mistakes

It may be every teacher’s observation that it is not necessary that these three groups of students behave in the same manner. This pattern suggests that an individual’s brain may have three functionalities:

1. Cognitive

2. Affective

3. Co-Native

Cognitive functionality relates to ‘set of all mental abilities and processes related to acquiring knowledge’, which is well understood by many and is commonly referred to as the IQ (Intelligence Quotient).

 Affective functionality relates to ‘experience of feelings or emotions’, which is understood by a few and is in popular parlance also referred to as the EQ (Emotional Quotient).

 Co-native functionality relates to ‘natural tendency, impulse, desire, volition, striving or directed effort’ which is less understood and may be referred to as the XQ (Execution Quotient)

Imagine three scenarios based on typical complaints from teachers and / or students.

  • In the first scenario, ‘a student who grasps most of the subject, rarely comes to class, does not do any homework and still gets good marks. This is a kid who has an exceptional cognitive skill to the exclusion of the other two.
  • In a second scenario, ‘a student always makes it a point to see the teacher in the morning, appears to be intently listening in the classes, cannot do homework and finds the subject very hard to follow. This is a kid who has an exclusive affective skill with difficulties in the other two parts.
  • In a third scenario, a student is punctual, writes all notes, submits every homework, is expected to perform well, cannot understand or apply the knowledge and may fail in the exams. This is a kid who has the drive but lacks sufficient development of cognitive and affective aspects.

These three scenarios suggest that a student may come to the class with varied degrees of devel-opment of the three functions of the brain. Thus, the challenging task for an educator is to cre-ate approaches that may address each of these facets and build students’ confidence in a holis-tic manner. All stakeholders in education may have to consider this approach to developing stu-dents’ necessary aptitude, required skills and the consequent attitude by designing relevant training programs. This, in some measure, will have addressed the lacunae that employers find in the new recruits.

Considering these aspects, an initiative is envisaged to bridge the expectation mis-match between the Academy-Industry. This training imparts aspects of soft-skills, tips on succeeding in inter-view, generic work-skills, professional skills and most significantly, acquiring specialized knowledge with application of these skills.

One of the initiatives embarked upon, addressing a specific group of engineering streams, in-volves offering bridge-courses to Engineering Grads. interested in making a career in the field of AUTOMATION – be it Industrial Automation, Process Automation, Building Automation and so on. Enabling them to be suitably placed in enterprises involved in Automation Products Manu-facturing, Automation Product Supplies, Automation Systems Integration, and so on. This neces-sarily ensures employability of deserving candidates and provides appropriately skilled human resources for the employers.
  • Specialized, skill-based vocational training is offered to pre-final / final year students complet-ing engineering in allied streams of engineering viz., electrical, electronics, instrumentation, communication, computer science and related subjects
  • Some of the Engineering / Technical Institutions have pioneered these training initiatives and seen significant success
  • Professionals with industry experience and proficiency in the subject are identified to effec-tively deliver training and guide the students in successfully completing associated projects.
The technically strong pool of human resources thus developed would be appropriately deploy-ing their skills as trained productive resources, upon recruitment by the industry. This would support the industries’ need to augment their manpower requirement in a timely manner, who would be productive soon after induction in to the company, without the undue effort and ex-pense associated with new hires, not-withstanding the gestation period.