KOCHI: Contrary to recent reports in which employers were heard expressing doubts on the competence of engineering graduates from Kerala, a national-level study has found they fare slightly above the national average.
The study by the National Project Implementation Unit (NPIU), a unit of the Union HRD Ministry (MHRD), said graduates from the state have better command over English, arithmetic and logical reasoning. “All students who appeared for the NPIU test scored good marks, thus putting us above the national average,” said Cusat School of Engineering principal M P Sasidharan.
“If asked whether 74 per cent employability is a good score, I would say compared to other colleges, barring the IITs, we’ve done well. Our aim is to achieve cent per cent employability which is a daunting task,” he said. Sasidharan pointed out lack of aptitude and a strong base in mathematics as two big issues. “The students score marks in the exams, but when it comes to applying those equations and theorems in real time, they falter,” he said.
“A lack of soft skills becomes the students’ undoing when they’re asked to come up with ideas during campus interviews,” said Sasidharan.
Cusat, he said, is planning to revise its syllabus in order to increase employability. “We’ve to change the things we teach according to changing times. We do change our syllabus every four years,” he added.
Muralidhar P, CEO, Era Foundation, a non-profit organisation for education, said three factors --- poor input quality, lack of practical knowledge and zero soft skills --- affect the engineering graduates’ employability.
“What’s expected of an engineer? Like a medical graduate or chartered accountant student, they too have to come out of their colleges ready to take up jobs. But they’re not able to do that,” said Muralidhar. “Hands-on experience goes a long way in making a graduate ready for the job he has studied for. An MBBS graduate or CA has to undergo house surgeoncy and apprenticeship respectively if he/she has to pass out. Such a step doesn’t exist in the case of engineering graduates. NITs, IITs and other well-established institutes send their students for an internship at companies for a month or so. But those at lower-ranked colleges never get such an opportunity,” he said.
“WIPRO, TCS and Infosys have programmes under which the companies select candidates from IT colleges and train them for a period of six months before actually selecting them for jobs. This is the period during which most graduates actually learn how to apply what they’ve learnt,” he said.