Education should be redesigned to make it employment-oriented
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s call for making education job-oriented needs to be followed up with action by officers of education department and the Goa University. Sawant’s lament that education is more about learning-based projects than project-based learning is an echo of what has been talked about for a long time. It is true that employability of students passing out from institutions has never been a priority for the education system. Addressing students of engineering colleges at a recent event at the Centre of Excellence for Employability Enhancement Sawant urged them to try and work out solutions to real-life problems. According to estimates, less than one-thirds of engineering graduates in the state were hired by companies. The two-thirds of students passing out of engineering colleges do not find employment on the basis of their academic record.
Of course, a good proportion of engineering graduates might be failing to get hired by companies on grounds of less merit than those who were selected. However, if 70 per cent of them do not meet expectations of the employers, it is necessary that bridge courses are conducted to make them employable. The problem is even more acute among graduates in arts and sciences. Their learning does not prepare them for any profession requiring a particular expertise. Engineering students can still get jobs in their fields if they have merit. But graduates with non-technical degrees or those with Xth or XIIth standard certificates drift to any job that might be available to them. Technical and non-technical graduates or school certificate holders need to at least acquire skills in communication, teamwork and develop problem solving ability and approach. Goa University conducts an eight-week internship programme for students passing out from engineering colleges to help them meet the expectations of the industry. The subject of making education relevant to industry has engaged Goa University as much as it has other organizations. The industry has long been asking for redesigning of syllabuses in accordance with the requirements of the industry. Somehow, it has not worked out. But it has not worked out at the national level, either.
On one hand, education does not make every student of engineering college employable; on the other, parents have been spending millions to get their children admitted to good or bad engineering colleges. But when unemployment hits more, the result is less admissions. Out of 37 lakh seats in engineering colleges in the country only 20 lakh are currently filled. According to unofficial estimates, 13 lakh of the 20 lakh students who join engineering courses pass out with degrees; and of the 13 lakh degree holders, only half the number manage to get campus placements; others have to struggle to get a job. It is not uncommon to find engineering graduates taking up jobs in other fields like general graduates. In Goa too, almost 35 per cent of engineering seats remained vacant this year as there were no takers. The reason for poor performance of most students has been attributed to their sustained application as well as poor quality of teaching. According to Ajai Chowdhary, co-founder of HCL Infosystems, almost 95 per cent of the engineers in the country were not fit for software development jobs. He said that though 90 per cent of jobs in India were skill-based, only 6 per cent candidates for these jobs were skill-trained. He highlighted the need for bridging the gap of skills needed by the industry and provided by institutions.
Technology changes fast; even before one gets acquainted with one version, a revised version appears, and hardly a few months pass when even the latest model becomes old fashioned. The Goa government has been complaining that the industry is not doing enough to train Goans as apprentices. The industry must address the grievance by providing training to young persons in the skills they require. The industry of course cannot write things on a blank slate. The candidates must have the basic knowledge and skills. The curriculum of technical and other courses must be framed taking into consideration the need of employers in the fast changing global scenario. The state government must keep its promise to set up institutes of international standards to provide skills required by industry.