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Editorial | Will The Real Engineer Please Stand Up?

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-Vishesh Kashyap, Editor-in-Chief

What makes one an engineer? Is it the degree or the vocation? Is a business analyst with an engineering degree still an engineer?

That a large number of engineering students immediately move on to jobs not remotely associated with the field – much less practice – of engineering is a fact well known to most related to the area of engineering education. Any comparison between the number of students graduating with an engineering degree every year and that doing so with a heightened disenchantment with the very discipline they are now professionally certified for is likely to astound a neutral observer no end.

...less than 7% of engineering graduates were employable in the disciplines they had earned their degrees

India’s engineering boom began post liberalisation, spearheaded by a considerable influx of IT and software jobs and followed closely by a growing focus on infrastructure development. By the new millennium, engineering had become something of a default degree – a slingshot into sectors across the job spectrum. By 2013-14, 1 in 6 Indian undergraduates were enrolled in engineering institutes, the number of such institutes growing from around 400 in 1990 to more than 3400 in 2018.

An Aspiring Minds study in 2016 claimed that less than 7% of engineering graduates were employable in the disciplines they had earned their degrees. In a 2013 survey, it was found that 78% IIT Bombay graduates took up jobs in sectors not related to engineering and technology. Logic follows that an engineering degree stands as no more than an avenue to a job – any job – as it acts for employers across industries as a sign of the empirical competence (not necessarily related to engineering or technical competence) of the candidate. Hence the relative rush of non-engineering firms looking for engineering graduates, and vice-versa.

While prestigious engineering institutes continue to report good results, the number of graduates actively opting for a career in engineering continues to fall.

However, with the increase in such jobs not necessarily keeping up with the rapid increase in graduates – and India not becoming a core engineering powerhouse anyway – the appeal of an engineering degree has begun to fall. 80% of engineering seats in Odisha, 60% in Karnataka, 52% in Haryana and 49% in Maharashtra remained vacant this year. While prestigious engineering institutes continue to report good results, the number of graduates actively opting for a career in engineering continues to fall.

The question remains – are our engineering institutes producing engineers anymore? The lines between being an engineer and not continue to be increasingly blurred.

Posted by Vishesh

Exasperating farrago