82.5% of indian technical graduates are not ready to be employed, but who’s listening???

I came across a recent report which claimed that only about 17% of Indian technical graduates are ready to be employed.

From my experience it is usually about 6 to 12 months before a fresh Engg graduate gives more to the team than he or she takes. Most of what is taught in Engineering degree is pretty much useless or irrelevant. In fact if I have to go back to my 4 year Engg syllabus and re-look what part of what I learnt (or was supposed to learn) has been useful in my 20 year career, it would be a very low percentage.

Now coming back to the survey, based on the track record, the response from the industry would be on the following lines:

Decry the deplorable levels of tech education and write long petitions to the Education Ministry to improve the quality and relevance of our tech degrees and how this is impacting the industry. After all this, continue their existing hiring policy of campus recruitment and have a graded starting salary based on the ranking of the college.

Im fairly confident that none of the big hirers from our IT services sector is going to change their hiring policy in any manner. They will continue to hire Engineers every Engineering college that they can lay their hands on, put them through a long training process before the candidate is ready to contribute anything meaningful.

If 82% of them are unfit and you anyway have to put them through a few quarters of training, why bother with the degree in the first place? Why not just take in students who have just completed their high school, put them through a 1 or 1 1/2 year training instead of hiring fresh Engineers and training them for 6 months before they are ready?

While this does sounds extreme, this is exactly what a Chennai based technology product development company has been doing for the past 4 years now. I understand about 15% of their 1300 work force is actually from their own University and they expect to raise it to 30% over the next few years based on the current strength in their University and their hiring plans. I believe their 18 month course has been designed keeping in mind the needs of and expectations from a “Software Engineering Trainee” in their company. Roughly 95% of the students from this University have been absorbed into their company and the “graduates” from their University are actually more “job-ready” than fresh graduates who have spent 4 years in an Engineering college.

Of course there are other dimensions to this company’s initiative – they hire disadvantaged high school pass outs who would otherwise not be able to afford our super expensive (but inefficient) education system and are willing to take this “chance”. The students are paid a nominal stipend and are free to “drop out” anytime from their University – during or after the course.

Its high time that our IT industry looks at such innovating means of fulfilling their resource needs than relying on a system that delivers 82% unfits and believing that the government / education system “owes” them better trained people. Nobody owes anybody anything.

This would also put an end to people believing that they can start an Engineering college if they just have 50 acres of land in the middle of no where and turn out unfits who would be hired anyway.


5 Replies to “82.5% of indian technical graduates are not ready to be employed, but who’s listening???”

  1. I got the following very compelling comments from a good friend. Ive tried to remove references to names and institutes:

    “Most of what is taught in Engineering degree is pretty much useless” – this is a generic statement.
    What if he did computer science engg? what if he was a electric engineering and went into chip industry.

    –Another note based on ur logic above: According to you, 10th std studies is enough for surviving…I say 8th std studies
    is also enough. Even 5th std studying is enough – as long as you can do basic math +-/*. You wont use any of
    anything you learnt after 5th in ur job…Everything else, you can learn on the job. In fact, here
    there is a 10 yr old child making money writing app on apple store with company named carrots.com
    inspiration from apple.com. So, question to you: is your daughter going to quit studies in 5th std and start
    a company? why should she know more ? she can learn everything else on the job. Just teach her to
    stitch clothes, then she can make money stictching clothes, make a boutique, expand through out india.
    Anyway she is not going to use physics, chem, biology, calculus etc for her tailoring/fashion business.
    So, why study after 5th std. Make sure she can draw. Thats the only skill she will need. She is already
    reading and speaking English well. So, she should be good. So, this way you dont have to worry about
    college education and education stds.

    The company that you refer to invites kids from highschool to become s/w engg trainees. I say..try taking smart 11 year olds and
    give them the same training. I promise, that company will get similar results.They will be good engineers
    at 13 – I swear they can be awesome programmers.

    82.5% of technical graduates not ready to be employed.
    My argument: I agree that syllabus is bad…there are many more reasons for the 82.5% not getting employed.

    Other reasons:
    Remember: LOGIC is language agnostic…You can write algorithms..you dont have to know the language
    They do not study what they have been taught in college!
    Flunk and have arrears
    Get poor grades
    Join poor colleges
    Join through capitation fees
    cant speak english properly
    bad attitude that now they dont have to study because they are in college
    just dont want to work
    *But eventually they all land up in a job and are working

    Every fresher from school has to be trained and molded. A company cannot expect to take them and work immediately

    I also studied in a college with outdated syllabus..studied basic, pascal and cobol in 2000. But I was taught oracle db and also choose java in my project work.
    Yet, in the peak of recession, I managed to get 2 jobs thru campus interview. I struggled in the job. But any fresher would…even if they came from the
    brighest schools.

    1. My 2 cents on this:
      Lot has been said about the gap; many or most may agree.
      Premise: not everything can be taught. Else the industry would not have anything to do.
      So what the education system gives  us is the art of learning. The art of learning at different levels.
      1. Can we say – a high school can write the code and debug within that logic?
      2. A graduate can give the algorithm and get the coding by understanding the system.
      3. A post graduate can define a system [given the concept] for which the design and code needs to be developed
      4. A scholar can extract concept from the existing and provide the business and technical need and feasibility of a solution.

      Now coming to the question – can the industry and academia join hands and define how ‘learning’ can be taught these levels and endorsed?
      That would be a constructive debate to solve the issues ( if any) at hand

      (as an example keeping the context to software areas)

      Comments/ reviews?

      1. Thanks for reading and the comments.

        Makes sense, but the only problem is the industry and the academia evolve at very different pace and so it would be a frustrating experience for the industry which would just give up trying to break through the bureaucracy involved in the academia.
        As late a 2002, one of the most prestigious institutes in South India did not have Java in their MCA course syllabus. That should explain how fast the academia move.
        For too long the academia has hidden behind the excuse of “We provide the basic fundamentals, logic (whatever that means!!!!) etc etc and the industry will have to train the graduates in the latest evolving technology” – Now, I dont think that excuse is flying

        I like that chennai based company’s for another reason that they are looking to solve this issue ground-up (starting with their own company and university, starting small, evolving it over a few years before having 400 or 500 from their university absorbed into their company) rather than top-down (which would be trying to influence the education system, bring about country wide collaboration between industry and academia etc etc).

        Im personally a believer in the ground-up approach of doing things.


  2. And here was my response to that friend:

    Even after doing your MCA and getting into IT, you could only recall Oracle and Java (the latter which you learnt on your own initiative) which was taught that was useful, so I guess the irrelevance / useless holds

    Taking 12th standard, and not lower has a reason Id think: Legal age for employment is 18 and you cant hire anyone younger than that. so you might as well pick students who would be 18 around the time they complete the “graduation” from this university. As far as my daughter I dont know if she wants to be a boutique owner and so until she’s sure about what she wants to do, I dont know if i can place any hard bets to teach her just that. She unfortunately has to suffer through this system.

    I agree these are all reasons for the “unfit”ness, but what does the education system do to improve or worsen these? Nothing Id say. So, why rely on that system if for whatever reason the output is unfit?

    Look at the overall returns: You can either take a Engg / MCA from one of the Engg colleges, pay them about 5 lakhs per annum put them thru 6 months of training in a 5 star like “resort” in Chennai or Bangalore or Mysore, or take 12th standard guys, train them for 18 months and pay them 1.2 lakhs per annum after graduation from the university and both of them delivery more or less comparable performance. What would you prefer?

    This company’s move has been a stroke of genius though the following are some relevant questions:
    For a student betting on this company’s university whats his / her career path? what is this company shuts down and the student is stuck with their degree? Can they get a job outside?
    Id still say its not a bad bet. You are anyway from a disadvantaged position and cant afford / get into this useless education system and here you get a stipend for learning with a reasonable assurance of a job once you do a good job during the course.
    In any case, I personally believe the shelf life of a degree is 5 years and beyond that people look at what you have done in the most recent 5 years than what you studied 6 years back. So, for a person who doesnt have much of an option this is a seriously good bet. You can pull out anytime, even after you complete that course – so exit is not a problem either.
    No, I do not look at it as an exploitation by this company to get cheap work force. I think its more of tapping into an untapped resource pool – actually creating their own pool. MBAs call it “Blue Ocean Strategy”.


  3. That was a great discussion happening. Just a line or two to add after seeing the education in India and elsewhere in the world..Kids outside India are getting equipped with skills like communication, writing reports , doing investigative writing , independent thinking and expressing oneself.. from a very early age. Emphasis to physics , bio, chem and all the other subjects comes later when they think the concepts are in place…A small incident…We have learnt how to get the LCM and GCF in probably grade 4 or 5 ,but when we were not taught where , when or why we will use it….
    About graudate studies, I personally feel we need to equip students with the knowledge to use the latest softwares and equipments..Keep them updated with what the world is using especially in engineering so that they can be employable ASAP..People skill is another v important skill to survive after getting any job too..,so workshops are very necessary from Year 1 of engg.
    Easy for me to identify the faults after having treaded in the path. But must admit, I should not and cannot complain as I am doing nothing to help the next generation..Charity begins at home, so will try to train my kids well first….

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