We do have a problem with engineering education in India. Moreover, there are not many jobs, especially in the core engineering sectors. Problems are even more serious if you are from a Tier-2/3 college in India. So, what should a Non-IT or Non-CS engineering graduate do? In this article, we will discuss the problems with the core engineering jobs in India and a few potential solutions. Additionally, we talk to Shashwatee Shwetapadma, who made a smooth transition from Mechanical Engineering to UI and Mobile Application Development.
Core Engineering Jobs in India
Problems and Potential Solutions
More or less, we all know about the problem with engineering education in India. The problem is even more serious with core engineering (Non-IT / Non-CS) streams in India. The number of student intake and pass out had increased drastically. But, the opportunities to employ them after completion of their course haven’t increased much. As per the Annual Employability Survey 2019 by Aspiring Minds, 80% of Indian engineers are not fit for any job in the knowledge economy.
Employability: Tier-I versus Tier-2 and 3 Colleges
The employability of engineering graduates being produced by colleges in Tier-1 cities records a slight increase in all roles except those of sales engineers. But, numbers are pretty bad for Tier-2 & Tier-3 Colleges.
Key Problems with Engineering Education in India
As per the study by Aspiring Minds, lack of quality education, lack of practical exposure, and lack of basic skillset are the key reasons for the huge unemployability of engineering graduates in India.
“Engineering has become the de-facto graduate degree for a large chunk of students today. However, along with improving the education standards, it is quintessential that we evolve our undergraduate programs to make them more job centric,” says Varun Aggarwal, CTO Aspiring Minds.
The curriculum problem is also there in the IT/CS sector. Indian curriculum is behind times as far as programming languages are concerned. They stick with BASIC, FORTRAN, and some “marked for death” like PERL, Flash, Algol, and Object Pascal.
Students enrolled in Tier 2/3 colleges get hardly exposed to in-demand skills like Java, C, C++, Python, Ruby on Rails, etc.
The situation is worse in the case of core engineering such as mechanical or civil profiles.
“The science of manufacturing has moved way ahead but we continue to teach outdated concepts to students. For India to become the world’s manufacturing hub, we need to lead from the front in our understanding of cutting edge methods, knowledge-driven management, and implementation capability.” – Varun Aggarwal, CTO, Aspiring Minds.
Most Indian children are expected to spend hours in “coaching” classes to get into engineering or medical colleges. Exams still force the students to memorize by rote ancient textbooks, with no comprehension of the basic concepts.
Lack of Practical Exposure
Most Indian engineering graduates, be it IT or Electronics engineers, fail when they are expected to apply basic principles to solve real-world problems. Students of Tier 2/3 colleges hardly do quality internships and projects. With neither the requisite analytical skills nor a commendable command of the domain, they flounder.
On average, 60% of candidates lose out because of not having requisite domain knowledge, something they should learn in college. This is due to a lack of hands-on training and also because of the outdated course curriculum.
Lack of Soft Skills
According to the Aspiring Minds’ National Spoken English Skills Report (SES), 52% of Indian engineers can’t get jobs because of poor communication skills. Fluency in English language, sentence construction, pronunciation, non-verbal communication, and basic grammar would seem to be alien skills to some.
Key soft skills like problem-solving, creative thinking, cross-cultural team communication, and client-handling skills are not taught in our colleges, unfortunately. Although an engineer could be brilliant, the inability to put forward his views effectively could well cost him his chance. There is much to be said in favor of behavioral, personality development, and people management skills helping engineers land their dream jobs. We need to reinforce these additional competencies as key elements of continuous learning.
What Should You Do If You are Graduating from a Tier-2/3 Engineering College in India?
With a 1.3 billion population, it’s not practically possible that every kid will make it to IIT, NIT or a Tier-1 college after 12th.
We have already discussed the problems with the Tier-2 & Tier -3 colleges in India also the problems with the core engineering job market. So, what are the potential solutions for Non-IT or Non-CS graduates?
Explore Jobs in the IT Sector
Irrespective of your stream (IT, Mechanical or Civil), there are a few jobs in the IT sector if you work hard. Several Non-IT engineering graduates switch to the IT sector because their level of knowledge in their domain is limited (or) due to a lack of confidence in getting a job in their own stream. Plus, IT companies pay good salaries.
IT companies such as Infosys, TCS, and HCL are not really core Product companies. They are mainly service companies. In service-oriented companies, one of the key skills is communication skills hence companies stress on this aspect much more than Tech skills, at least at the entry-level.
Over time, try to up-skill ore re-skill yourself. Over the years many companies, especially Infosys, have fine-tuned the training process enough to be successful. If your company hasn’t got too many training opportunities, try to go for online certifications and MOOCs to continue with your professional development.
Be Patient with Jobs in the Core Engineering Sector
If you are not interested in the IT sector and want to go for core engineering roles only, you have to be patient. Spend time on expanding your skillset. It would be wise to look for jobs in other industries as well. You could also try to UPSC / Civil Services exams and other non-engineering careers.
How to Get Core Engineering Jobs
You have to accept the fact that there aren’t that many core engineering jobs available in India. If you get a chance somewhere, don’t be too demanding with the salary. A student from a tier-3 college gets something around Rs 66,000 per annum in the core engineering sector.
Building projects are a great way to learn engineering concepts and this knowledge will help you to build great things when you advance in your career. This is one of the important skills that core companies look for during recruitment because they need engineers who can solve industrial problems, not just a text-book genius.
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Building projects hands-on not only develops your technical skills but also helps you to acquire other skills like collaborating with team members, problem-solving ability, critical thinking, designing solutions, leadership skills, presentation skills, etc. These practical skills help to meet the industrial standards and greatly assist you in getting core jobs.
Another alternative could be going for higher studies abroad if you are really keen to work in the core engineering domain. USA, Germany, UK, Sweden, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, and Singapore are very good options.
How to Get Jobs in the IT or Software Industry as a Non-IT or Non-CS Graduate?
I know it’s not too easy to switch to the IT sector for everyone. This is why, we invited Shashwatee Shwetapadma, who is from the Mechanical Engineering background and currently working in the UX/UI domain. She is a Software Engineer, currently working in HCL, formerly associated with Capgemini and a few startups.
How to Deal with Core Engineering Jobs Scarcity
Q&A with Shashwatee Shwetapadma
1. What made you choose Mechanical Engineering?
To be honest, it wasn’t my decision, I had a dream to pursue medicine but my father wanted me to pursue engineering and I wasn’t interested in IT back then, hence chose mechanical engineering.
2. Please tell us about your current job profile. What made you interested in the UI/UX vertical?
I work as a technical lead for the UI team for HCL, where I plan for the work to be done with technical breakups of a requirement. I train fresh recruits based on the requirements.
Initially, I was very much clueless about what to start working on, as I was trained in Java, but eventually, with project requirements, I moved to UI development.
3. What would be your suggestions for the Non-IT/Non-CS students who want to get into the Software & IT domain after BE/B.Tech.?
Ideally, it doesn’t matter that you from the IT or Non-IT domain because almost everyone starts from scratch after joining a company, and I think it all depends on the interest of the person over the work, and not considering it as a burden.
4. You had your first job at Capgemini after College. Could you please share some details about the recruitment process?
When I was recruited in Capgemini, there were 3 rounds of interview process, first being the online test which had aptitude and English questions, second being the Group Discussion which had all the latest debate topics at that time and last being the Personal Interview round in which the interviewer asked almost everything which was taught me over 4 years of BTech, and even from my projects and internships which I had pursued over my BTech.
5. What would be your advice to the folks who want to work in their core domains after Engineering (e.g. Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, etc.)?
It doesn’t matter whether a person is going in core domains or into IT, because it is completely based on the recruitment process and an individual’s interest.
6. After Capgemini, you moved to work with small companies. What was the rationale behind that?
Actually, I left Capgemini because of some personal reasons and had to move to my hometown, where there were very fewer opportunities in MNC’S, and I don’t like sitting idle at home, hence I joined a startup. Though the package was less, the amount of learning and the team over there was the best.
7. How has been your experience at HCL?
I have been in my client location from the beginning, but frankly speaking, HCL is a company where somebody can retire.
8. You have worked in both Large (Capgemini & HCL) and Small Companies. Could you please share a few Pros & Cons of working at Larger and Smaller Companies?
Working in MNC’s everything is a process over here, but there is a problem with the hikes, also with the learning process, there is very little learning.
But in startups, you learn a lot and there is good exposure to any new technologies. And you take full responsibility for any application, client interaction and the demerit is there is no process for which there is a problem with people.
9. What would be your advice for the students who want to make a career in UI/UX and Mobile App Development?
That’s a definitely good choice because the market is definitely demanding people with such experience.
10. According to you how important are the following in the current workplace (or job market) and what are your personal thoughts about them – Soft Skills, Continuous Professional Development, Networking & Online Presence, and Personal Branding?
All 4 of them play a key role in every person’s professional life. Soft skills increase your contact and networks with many people, continuous professional development keeps you on track with the latest technologies and keeps you job-market-ready. Networking, online presence, and personal branding help you to find jobs when is required.
11. What has been your biggest achievement(s) so far in your career? Is there any particular accomplishment that you would like to share with our readers?
I have rewarded from all 4 companies where I have and am worked/working now for my efforts. There has been a situation where I haven’t slept for 3 days together for work. I am and will always be a dedicated resource.
12. Any general career advice for the engineering students that you would like to share with college students and fresh college graduates?
This would be advisable to any students, that might be you wouldn’t be clear about what and where you should work after college ends but trust me on this, that if you have a will, you can fulfill any and every wish and dreams. So just breathe and give you the best in anything you do.
Working in IT after pursuing BTech in Mechanical was challenging. But, nothing is impossible when you dream for it and I believe in achieving all my dreams.
Featured Image Source: HR Katha