The objective of education is primarily to get a job and earn enough for comfortable life. Engineering, management and medicine are most sought after streams of higher education. Among these, engineering is essentially a SKLL set that was known variously as sculpturer, mason, carpenter, blacksmith etc in early days. The profession of technicians got formalized as ENGINEERING with the establishment of first institution for Civil Engineering in France in mid-18th century followed by Electrical and Mechanical streams later in England. 

The three streams got fast multiplied into multiple specializations with developments in technology. We perhaps didn’t have more than 10 streams in 1960s and these could now be counted above 50, but essentially we are all technicians. The division is necessitated for the convenience of education, but ultimately different streams converge, when a product or process is developed. There is nothing like core streams anymore.

Computers started as advanced calculators and Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) branch has application in every other stream, may it be automobile, mobile or additive manufacturing. Engineering is required in each domain of life. With such a vast application profile covering agriculture, transport, construction, communication, healthcare, food and space technology and what-not, should there be unemployment for engineering graduates?

But the B Tech degree doesn’t make us engineer. An ITI trade certificate, diploma from polytechnic or even an arts or commerce graduate could be an engineer, if engaged in technical business or manufacturing. Even surgeons operating on our tooth, knee, heart, brain or liver are engineer. It’s essentially a bent of mind that is all the more important for a person preparing for engineering profession. Over 1.2 million appear for JEE for admissions to 23 IITs and only about 10,000 succeed. But there are hundreds of other institutions offering engineering degree.

Name of institution and the branch that one selects is no doubt important, but the most important aspect is “how you prepare for the career”. There is criticism about quality of education, outdated syllabus, faculty and the unemployability factor, where we wish Government, Ministry of HRD or AICTE to take action. Well, all these actions may take long time and many institutions are shutting down, because of poor admissions. That’s mainly because there are no JOBS.

Blaming government of the day for failure to generate enough employment opportunities is yet another issue deliberated by the media, intelligentsia and the politicians, but we are blind to the writing on the wall that jobs are going to vanish rapidly during the decade due to adoption of Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) etc.

Disruption in technology has always killed big corporates like KODAK and XEROX, but newer opportunities always emerge. Those who keep track of the changes in future technology and upcoming business opportunities, will never remain jobless. The right word is to ‘get engaged’ rather than to get placed; and for successful engagement, the exploration should start early, not in the final year of degree.

It calls for early ORIENTATION of students in school as also their parents to make an intelligent Career CHOICE and to pursue it systematically. Every institution could adopt this strategy and if done in right earnest, NONE will have to close operation, irrespective of limitations. If required, the author will be happy to share his vision.

Prof. Virendra Grover
B Tech (’71), M Tech (’73)  –  IIT KANPUR 
Life Member – GMA, IE(I), IIM, LUB, IITKAA
SD-72, Shastri Nagar, Ghaziabad – 201002

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