CHENNAI: It is that time when college campuses begin to buzz with the fervour of placements, and engineering students try and realise their dreams of working with the IT giants. But even with ‘computer science’ still being that magic word that gets people jobs, recruiters and colleges are sitting up to think of what is to be done about this IT-specific frenzy.
“The joy of engineering has completely gone away,” says Varadharaj Venkateshwar, associate vice president , Talent Acquisition, Infosys speaking at the Placement Director’s Conclave on recruitment trends organised by ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu. No parents, he says, comes and asks a college to make their child a good engineer but says ‘I am investing a lakh per year on my child’s education, when can I recover that money.’ The recovering of ‘money’ is usually the fastest in IT, and although a subject like Mechanical Engineering remains very high on the list of engineering aspirants, it takes a backseat when it comes to jobs.
With the placements of the biggest name in engineering colleges- the Indian Institute of Technology kicking off last week, around 50-60 per cent of IIT graduates get jobs in core companies, that is subjects for which they have specialised in, according to the placement director Babu Viswanathan.
In tier-2 and tier-3 cities, the percentage is usually more skewed. “In mechanical engineering, it is usually 10-15 per cent of students who get into core companies; most get into IT,” says K Senthil Ganesh, the managing trustee of the RVS Group that has engineering colleges across Tamil Nadu.
This appears to be both a result of choice and the opportunities, as most of the students coming to these colleges are not from strong financial backgrounds and see IT as the quickest way to succeed. “IT is like an escalator while the core companies are like a ladder. Nobody wants to climb the ladder,” adds Ashok Kumar, joint secretary of the Kongunadu College of Engineering in Tiruchy.
From the perspective of the industry too, the imbalance affect the productivity. “A BSc graduate may be doing well in a particular job, but once they begin comparing themselves with the engineer who may not work as hard but earn more, the aspiration starts increasing,” says Venkateshwar.
The core companies often face the music of this trend. “When we say we are representing core engineering, we often find students emptying the hall,” says R R Krishna, the vice-president, Human Resources at FLSmidth. “Nobody wants to dirty their hands. Everyone wants to sit in air-conditioned cabins. But where do the components for making cellphone or a computer come from?” he asks. Although Venkateshwar believes that the current generation is restless and not keen on the old organisational culture, there is also a vast number of students who opt for engineering due to parental pressure and have to pick specific branches. With the result that most students in the first year of engineering are sitting there with a passion for some other field.
Students, educationists and the industry treating this matter seriously could be a ray of hope for reversing the trend.