Enhancing the Employability of Technical Education


By

R. K. Choudhary
Programme Director
Asia Pasific Institute of Information Technology SD India
(APIIT SD INDIA)
Panipat
 


Abstract

India has the world's second largest education system and provides one of largest pools of skilled manpower. In the recent years, the problem of unemployment among professional graduates is a cause of concern. Substandard Institutes are producing mere graduates instead of true professional, who cannot meet the expectations of Industries. There is immediate need to take few corrective measures otherwise India will face an explosion of unemployed technical graduates. Academia will have to understand the nerve of Industries and require producing true professional instead of mere graduate.

Introduction

India is flooded with technical institution imparting Engineering /Management courses. There is exponential growth in the number of technical institutions in almost all states except few  and hopefully in coming years the remaining states will also be able to establish number of the technical Institutes.  But it is accepted and unfortunate facts that except few premiere Institutes rest are substandard. Irony is that all premier Institutes get the creamy layer of intakes. Meritorious students getting admission in pioneer Institutes are natural professional. Unfortunately substandard Institutes get non creamy layer of intakes of are just producing Technical graduates having certificate but not required skills because of non quality practices. There is a need of following more stringent quality practices by institutes to overcome the weakness of students whereas institutes have poor quality management system producing only technical graduates instead of true professionals. As a consequences of non creamy intake and further more poor nurturing technical graduates are standing on the same platform as the non-technical graduates. After spending two years with a non-descript management institute or a department of management of a university, they suddenly realise that putting "M" before B.A. does not necessarily mean real management education. Many promises are broken, dreams are shattered and only frustration is what follows for the students as well as their parents. [Arya] In short Lack of professionalism makes the product of these substandard institutes unemployable.

A chance of better employment is punch line of all the technical courses. Aspirant opts a technical course in an impression that ultimately he would get a proper employment after graduating. It is also very remarkable that even these institutes give lure that there is enormous job opportunity in the relevant industries and in coming days it would further increase. But availability of opportunities doesn't guarantee that you will get it unless until you are not capable to avail it. Really there is boom in the Industries and technology is creating more opportunities everyday. But Industries looks true enablers and real professional.

Naturally the much-touted 'status' of being an engineer/Management graduate is plummeting. According to one estimation every year over 200,000 engineers graduate from Government and private-run engineering colleges. Many also specialize through diploma courses in computers and other technical areas. Management institutes produce 40000 management graduates annually.

Corporate Environment

The prevailing trend of the industries is to search ready made employee who may start to give output with immediate joining. Industries are not in position to spare a long training program initially then to get output from their employee because of high attrition rate. Academia has to understand this trend of industries in right way. Technical institutes are required to provide a corporate environment for its student. Lecture hall, Tutorial room are require to be renovated on the pattern of Industries training center.  Training program require to deliver with latest learning teaching methodologies( Computer aided instruction enabled class-rooms equipped with the latest audio video teaching aids, online consultation, video conferencing facilities etc.) Moreover there is need of practice of corporate culture also. Nomenclature of project manager, team leader, team member are more suitable instead of guide, supervisor and student for conducting project in the changed scenario. Students should expose to work with industries culture and team member (Student) should seek an appointment to project manager (Guide) for regular briefing and submission of project.  Group meeting, presentation, progress report briefing, should be the regular part of learning and teaching. There is need to inculcate the culture of performing the things within deadline. Concept of timeliness will enable the students to work under pressure. All these exercises will bring a big transformation into student and will evolve them as a true professional.

Learning and Teaching

The Learning is a process of acquiring permanent change in behavior as a result of practice or experience whereas teaching is a process of transmitting information (concepts, principles, procedures) through specific strategies which taken together, contribute to changes in behavior. Technical education is part of higher education and   independent learning is more required than teaching. Independent learning is essential equally for those who require achieving good marks and better placement as well. Employers value people who can act independently and can think and adapt. The progression of successive year of the curriculum in terms of the ratio of teacher lead learning and independent learning should be as below:


Practically things are occurring in reverse way in these newly setup technical institutions. They are focusing more on teaching and learning is almost missing. The teaching –learning environment is mostly teacher centric with students having less important role [Bhattacharya]. Moreover even the faculty in these colleges is not well versed as far as learning and teaching aspect is concerned. Most of the faculties are fresher, college pass outs, who just take over the teaching profession on a temporary basis. So they can't render quality education to the students, partly because they lack exact teachings methodologies and partly lack motivational factor. Further usually junior faculties are employed at lower level of course. They fail to inculcate the standard learning teaching habit among the students and students loose their interest because of de- motivating syllabus oriented lecture. Ultimately Poor learning teaching practices make the product less employable. Students remain with the myth that just a professional degree and a high score would earn them a good job; ultimately pass out from colleges ending up in non employment or underemployment.

Industry Academia collaboration

Technical Education Institutes in the country have been working and developing more or less in isolation from Industry. Today, Industry looks for professional who have learned to learn at a pace that does not hamper the overall productivity levels expected. This warrants judicious mix of foundational concepts and other pertinent skills. Academia and industry are rapidly inching closer to each other to create synergies. Sustainable partnerships between academia and industry are essential to produce a new generation engineers – with broader experience, serious business acumen and heightened awareness of the world outside the classroom. [Gopal]

Top notch Institutes have their industry interface because of their alumni and capability to provide research support to industries .Whereas new and substandard institute are in the scarcity of such links. One of the positive approach may be for such institute  to affiliate them with few professional organization such as AIMA,IE(India),IETE,CSI,IEEE etc. in someway which may help them in establishing closer relation to industry. Besides this endeavor they should start running industry sponsored program such as IBM academy program, Cisco Academy program, IBM skisha Abhiyan, etc. which will certainly make their product more employable. Industry tour, participation in exhibition, technical seminar and regular expert lecture by industry leader will be good way to come closer to the industries.

Course curriculum must be designed keeping the requirement of industries in mind and be updated regularly as per the needs of the industries. Courses should be more project oriented so that students may get more practical and implementation exposure. In fact Institutes/Universities of abroad have similar course design. Every theoretical module is followed by Project module in which students are required to implement the things, which they have learned. Its a practical fact that project oriented approach makes the student more employable. Institute should provide corporate learning environment right from the beginning so that its product may adapt quickly with industries after passing their degree.

In the West and even in few top-notch technical institutes in India there is culture of Industry placement of student for a year or 6 months in between their courses, which really fills the gap between industries and academics. Merely doing few weeks of industry training or just managing such a training certificate at the end of course for getting the degree will not serve the exact purpose of Industrial training concept.

Pedagogy Plan

Usually these institutes don't have any standard teaching plan. Instead of having a full pedagogy plan they are supplied only a copy of the syllabus that also happens to be ill defined in terms prerequisite for subjects etc. This is one of the major aspects of technical education and improvement in it will certainly bring the expected quality in teaching learning practices. There is need of well-defined syllabus, which should include the objective, learning outcome, required practical work, and required hours of independent learning, no. of lectures, tutorial etc. In a nutshell there is a need of better teaching and learning strategies, which will improve the quality of education. Equally important is the fact that with the suitable tactics these strategies are required to be implemented carefully. The modern quality management system for education have prescribed for up keeping a separate subject file by lecturer consist of Scheme of work (Weekly plan of execution of syllabus), Student Assessment Information sheet (components of assessment details with weightage, date of delivery & return) , Lecture log sheet, End of module report (Module appraisal tool) etc. require to be audited by auditor regularly.

Practical work

There is a need of the improving the traditional assessments style and it should meet the requirement of employer. There should be more group work to improve the ability of team player skill and leadership quality, individual work to develop the decision taking ability, Presentation of proposal for improving the presentation skills on the specific problem. We require improving the quality of assignment as well. The purpose of giving assignments to the students after teaching a particular topic through lectures is to help them understand the topics better through solving a few related numerical problems or by formulating answers to questions framed by the teachers by consulting various learning resources [Bhattacharya].

Students are required to do more live projects, case studies and implementation of solution of problem as their curriculum practical work. These exercises will definitely help them to become employable.

Application of Quality Improving Tools

Although the application of improving tools is general quality management principle for all organizations. But especially these institutes are essentially required to change their face by applying quality improving tools. Regular meeting between employees, periodical employee and employer meeting, regular interaction between the Class teacher and class representative, on line feed back system, Scholarship scheme for meritorious students will be some of the best tools for increasing the satisfaction level of all stake holders. Peer observation of lecture, training of lecturer by established expert, performance based rewards may prove helping tools for improving the quality of teaching and retaining good faculty. To attract and retain good teachers opportunities for research, development and consultancy should be provided which not only would satisfy the teachers but also would enrich their teaching.  [Bhattacharya]

Conclusion

It is very painful to have unemployed graduates. Newly established Institutes are require to think differently to make its product employable as their intake require more input to make them true professional.

References:

[Arya] "Sustaining Quality in Management Education" by Prof. Varun Arya published in the Faculty Column on September 21 2002 on Indianmba.com 

[Bhattacharya] "Changing Strategies in Professional Education" By Prof. S.K.Bhattacharya in IETE Technical Review volume 22 number 5 September –October 2005

[Gopal] "Community Talk" by Gopal T V in CSI communications Volume No. 30 Issue No. 1 April 2006.
 


R. K. Choudhary
Programme Director
Asia Pasific Institute of Information Technology SD India
(APIIT SD INDIA)
Panipat
 

Source: E-mail May 23, 2006

     

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