Experts in the Indian electronics world opine that mere college education cannot get candidates good jobs. You need to have that ‘extra’ bit to make it to the professional world. And that can be offered only by finishing schools.
By definition, a finishing school is a supplementary training school that attempts to compensate for the deficiencies of colleges by providing specialised vocational training (hard skills) or personality development programmes (soft skills). Whether you want to get into telecom engineering or VLSI, there is a finishing school for all kinds of engineers in India.
Engineering education in India: The loopholes
In an interview with EFYTimes.com correspondents, Dr Sameer Prabhu director of Industry Marketing, MathWorks, says, “While engineering education in India has evolved over the last few years, there is still a considerable skills gap when it comes to industry requirements. According to the National Employability Report (NER) 2011, while India produces more than 500,000 engineers annually, only a miniscule 3.51 per cent are appropriately trained to be directly deployed on projects. Further, only 2.68 per cent are employable in IT product companies, which require greater understanding of computer science and algorithms. One of the main reasons for this is lack of exposure to industry-standard tools and software.”
Experts are of the view that the current curriculum emphasises on theory rather than practical technological applications in the industry. Highlighting the need of employ employability in engineers, Raghu Panicker, country sales director, Mentor Graphics, says, “The main challenge today is not making the engineering graduates employable but also to ensure that there are more number of competent industry-ready engineers for better productivity and innovation. We have seen that fresh engineering graduates who get hired by leading companies have to go through induction on product engineering oriented or process engineering oriented or focused
in-house training programmes. These programmes are usually driven and guided by internal engineers, managers and product/process specialists, and run for over four to six months. These programmes involve a lot of effort, time and costs for any corporate. This is where finishing schools come in.”
Is the investment worth it?
After spending good money in doing an engineering course, one would obviously not give finishing schools a second thought. But students cannot undermine the importance of investing in training at finishing schools.
Col. N.C. Pande from EFY Tech Center, says, “While the colleges make a theoretical background for the students, finishing schools teach them the practical aspects of things. In India, a vast majority of engineering colleges and universities have not updated their curriculum to incorporate the current needs of the industry with respect to exposure to new technologies, products and processes across sectors. Hence the need for this supplementary training that can enhance ‘job readiness’ and hence cut down the time required by companies to make the fresh hires productive.”
Rajeev Kabra, chief executive officer and director, Cognitel Technologies, adds, “There are three important ingredients for disseminating knowledge on any topic: content design and development that is current and relevant, content delivery through well-qualified teachers/trainers, and content delivery infrastructure through use of physical or virtual classroom, labs, etc.
“As regards content design, universities in India are guided by a framework set up by a central body, which is how it should be. This framework is quite detailed and also prescribes specific courses that are mandatory for students to complete their undergraduate programme. However, we are constrained by lack of nimbleness to change the curriculum in line with the advances in technologies and the needs of the industry. Of course, this is not easy but this can be achieved through use of external help from institutions/companies that are focused around creating such content.
“The next big challenge that our colleges face is how to produce trainers/teachers that can deliver this content and keep themselves updated with latest technology trends.
“Finally, there is a need for infrastructure that can be used to provide hands-on experience to students, particularly in technical education. On the aspect of industry readiness, the linkages that need to exist between the colleges and the industry are not as pervasive as they need to be. We have provided many colleges across the country an opportunity to understand from us the demands of the jobs that exist for freshers in the IT and telecommunications sector by way of discussions and student visits to our labs.”