India's higher education system has become too big due to the reasons of country's large population and the desire to enhance the gross enrolment ratio. There has been significant capacity expansion in all streams of higher education namely technical, medical, law, science, commerce, arts etc. Amongst different streams of higher education being available for a student completing secondary education, it is seen that the today's children of class 12 have special interest towards technical, medical, law and commerce streams.
In fact, the merit of children in mathematics and science subjects in class 10 decides the stream a child will be choosing in class 11. This phenomenon has a social sanction. Even the parents have the perception that the career options are best for those pursuing engineering followed by medical, law, science, commerce, arts and so on. This race for engineering education needs to be assessed from the perspective of the prevailing circumstances and the future placement opportunities in the country and abroad.
Today, the economic statistics of the country exhibits to have around 16 percent of GDP contribution coming from manufacturing sector with employment potential of around 10-13 percent of manpower and around 67 percent contribution to GDP from the service sector and around 17 percent of GDP from agriculture. Statistics indicate that the USA produces around 1 lakh engineers every year whereas India rolls out around 15 lakh engineers annually for the economies of around $16 Trillion and $2 Trillion respectively. The size of India's economy and a number of engineers produced every year shows that there is not ample demand for absorbing this technical man power.
It is evident from different reports that around 10 percent of the graduating engineers are only employable.
A study for the year 2016 shows that in spite of the Indian government's efforts for strengthening manufacturing sector through Make in India mission, the manufacturing sector in India is the lowest paid sector with a median gross salary of Rs. 211.7 per hour which shows a fall by 16 percent in salary level as compared to 2014 when it was Rs.251.9 per hour. It also shows that in 2016 the highest median gross hourly salary is registered by the banking, financial and insurance sectors at Rs.433 per hour followed by IT sector at Rs. 386.8 per hour followed by healthcare, caring services and social network sectors at Rs. 242.5 per hour and education sector at Rs. 204.1 per hour.
Thus being optimistic at a macro level it can be said that around 50 percent of the GDP of the country is contributed by the sectors where graduate engineers will have no role to play. Under these circumstances, it is a high time when the students in secondary education should precisely see whether they should still go for technical education which has its own cost and not that cheap as it used to be a couple of years ago. This phenomenon should also be seen from the perspective of a number of centers of good quality education i.e. good Institutions for higher technical education.
It is evident from different reports that around 10 percent of the graduating engineers are only employable. This is an indication that out of these 15 lakh engineers being produced annually, hardly 1-1.5 lakh engineers will be employable, which amounts to unemployment and frustration of around 13.5-14 lakh engineers every year. If the average cost of a technical degree is assessed, then it may go up to Rs. 7-8 lakhs per student, which means the unemployment after earning these degrees, will also lead to the significant loss of money and should be a serious issue needing the attention of all concerned.
Since the evolution of mankind, the human beings with good analytical capability have been rated high in the society. If this is extended to education, then everyone in the society has the primary desire to have the best education so as to create a place for him/her and then follows the desire to have wealth & prosperity. This temperament is also prevalent in the parents and most of the times they strive hard to facilitate the best quality of education in the most lucrative stream of education.
In view of the significant role of technology in the present state of civilization, the society perceives the technical education to be the one with maximum career opportunities and parents create pressure for their children to opt for science based careers through engineering/medical followed by law, commerce, liberal arts etc. This race in the society needs to be viewed seriously after looking at the requirements and implications of each of career opportunities. Parents should educate themselves and associate themselves with the ongoing changes across the globe in terms of growth opportunities and then assess their kids for their proper career counseling.
There is critical need to complete an exercise to have the realistic net requirement of technical human resource in the present and future circumstances and accordingly allow/ disallow the higher technical education institutions through a suitable regulation in fair and objective manner. It should not be forgotten that any investment whether by the state or by any private investor for imparting the education is actually a national contribution and all care should be taken in handling them so that there is the optimal utilization of all inputs.
In the present era of the demographic dividend, it is a high time when the operators of the primary, secondary and tertiary education system should religiously look into the core issue of providing job/self- employment for all in due course of time else it could be disastrous for the society. It should be understood that every growing child needs a job for survival after 18-25 years of age. In fact, the issue pertaining to lack of requisite quality and standard of education needs holistic review as to whether the correction is required on the part of teachers, enablers or the students.
Merely floating newer concepts leading to changes in operating rhythm of the education system are always accompanied by the difficulty in their execution and adaption in due course. The student community is usually innocent and unconcerned about the issues of education quality, but the parents should definitely feel concerned and ask for the deliveries that are up to the mark.
This gives rise to the fundamental question as to who is responsible for the creation of these unemployable technical graduates, is it the Institution or the student? In every eventuality, the responsibility for the mishap falls upon the Institution because they admit the students with all kind of empowerment to offer the best quality education and, the regulatory framework has to take a serious call of the subject.
A serious look at the state of higher technical education institutions shows that the majority of them either do not have a requisite teacher to student ratio or have the inferior quality teachers who are products of the poor quality Institutions and have been unfortunate for not being taught technical subjects properly and thus created a vicious cycle. In private Institutions, this problem of not having good teachers is quite prevalent for which the present day higher education system is responsible.
At most of the places, a look at today's University system shows that most of the Universities have shrunk their primary roles to the admission, examination, and award of degree and thus the efficacy of teaching-learning processes has taken the back seat. It has been seen that the practice of accreditation of technical courses is underway but its compelling enforcement for the survival of only accredited courses in the Institutions is absent. This gives sufficient opportunity to the Institutions to continue with the courses even without accreditation which in fact implies the absence of meeting the bare minimum standard for good quality teaching-learning environment.
Under these circumstances, insufficiency of the jobs for the engineering graduates in the country and poor quality of the majority making them unsuitable for jobs in the international market calls for the young students and their parents to choose careers prudently. Society has to understand that today there are enormous career opportunities depending upon the interest and creativity in the mind of every student. There is need to channelize the interests of youngsters and nurture them for suitable skill so that they start adding value to the economy after the appropriate level of education/training.
This task of deciding interest based suitable career options of every child should take place in the primary and secondary level of education so that the higher education is not excessively loaded as well as the limited good quality education institutions are facilitated to perform their responsibilities with the highest quality.
Prof. Onkar Singh
The founder Vice Chancellor of Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Prof. Onkar Singh is currently Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Kanpur (U.P.).He has a experience of more than 23 years in academics. Remarkably, he is the recipient of National Scholarship throughout education and has received AICTE Young Teacher Career Award in year 2000.