Prof. Dr. P. K. Jena in Bhubaneswar, September 9, 2017: Higher Technical Education (HE) should train the students satisfactorily to work in a professional field including industries and commerce for the socio economic development of the country while earning their livelihood. In the present scientific and industrial age, it is essential for a student to receive proper professional education for employability in the areas of industry and commerce.

Most of the countries in the world as well as India, are engaged in industrial developments by utilizing their various natural resources including minerals, forest, water and energy by applying best available technology. In view of this, in recent years, a large number of technical and management institutions and universities have come up offering higher technical education to young students so that they can get better employment in various industrial and commercial fields.

However, at present, in most of the technical institutions in India the teaching standard, the quality of teaching staff and the infrastructural facilities for imparting practical training have been so poor that most of the students after graduation from these institutions are found to be unemployed. It is so because the employers are finding them quite unsuitable for their industries.

As a result, the industries are not only suffering for lack of suitable personnel but also the number of unemployed technical graduates are increasing in the country. In views of this, the Government of India is highly concerned about improving not only the curriculum of the studies but also infrastructural facilities for imparting practical training, skill development and the quality of teaching community.

Most of the technical institutions particularly the private ones during the past two – three decades, have been more concerned about making money from the students without much caring to groom them as skilled engineers and managers.

At present, as per All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), about 55% of the students of Indian technical institutions do not have proper training and hence are unemployed. Who is responsible for this? AICTE should urgently do the needful and so that most of our technical graduates are employed suitably.

Employability Skill:-The employability of a technical person means his or her capacity to translate the acquired knowledge into action, ability to work with others, adaptability, competency, creativity and the team spirit. The graduates in the technical area should have the required knowledge in the area of specialization and employability skills necessary for getting, keeping and doing well in the job.

The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) has identified employability skills for all types of jobs. These include Basic Competency Skills, Communication Skills, Adaptability Skills, Developmental Skills, Group Effectiveness Skills and Influencing Skills as given in the table below:

The National Association of College and Employers (NACE), USA, have compiled a list of top 20 skills for the graduates to possess for getting right type of job.

It is necessary that the skills given in Table I and II based on research should be gained by the technical graduates during the course of their studies so that by the time they complete their courses of studies, they become confident of getting a right type of employment in the industries and can continue to enjoy the confidence of the employer and also be productive.

Suggestions for Improving Employability:– Keeping in view the present situation of technical education in India, the following suggestions are made for improving employability and productivity.

1) In order to impart both theoretical and practical knowledge and employability skill as mentioned above, the technical institutions of India should reorganize their curriculum so that the students are well trained not only in their main subject but also posses the employability skill to get the job, satisfy the employer in their workplace and be productive. As the development of skills and attributes (knowledge, skill and ability) require practice over a long time frame, these have to be developed from the beginning of their graduation period.

2) In order to imbibe a industrial and advanced technology culture, it is essential that, the educational institution in consultation with the concerned industry and research organization should prepare the teaching programme and train the students accordingly. The representatives from these three organisations should form a committee to develop the curriculum, training and skill development programme so that the students get the scope to acquire the knowledge as well as the employability skill.

3) In this process, the quality of teaching community should also be improved by exposing them to various quality improvement programmes particularly in advance research and their industrial application.

4) The teaching programme should go along with the advancement of technology. For example, from the resource and environment points of view, it has been essential to utilize energy as much as possible from renewable sources like sun, wind, biomass and hydro power instead of only using the polluting and limited reserves of fossil fuels in the industries. In view of this, the curriculum in the concerned area should be changed taught and practiced as it is done in other developed countries.

It may be mentioned here that when more than 20% of energy requirement in the mining industries in other developed countries are being harnessed from renewable sources, in India practically no mining industry is using renewable energy and their technical staff are very little aware of this. The similar is the case about industrial waste utilization. In order to be competitive in the global industrial field, environment friendly technology has to be developed, students should be trained in these and finally the industry should use these.

5) In educational institutions of India, more importance is given in theory than the practical aspects. As a matter of fact, equal weightage should be given to both and accordingly proper facilities should be created. The students should undertake both theory and practical courses in allied fields so that they can get the opportunities to work and contribute successfully in the industries which are mostly interdisciplinary in nature.

6) The student should be encouraged to generate new ideas in the areas of natural resources conservation, environment protection, waste management through debates and seminars and they should be allowed to take up innovative projects in these areas and their performance should be evaluated accordingly. This will help them to develop employability skill.

7) In India, 70% of the people live in rural area. The AICTE should encourage technical institutions to start a Rural Development Technology course for integrated development of rural areas. After completion of the course, these young graduates can be employed by the Government or private organizations to develop rural India.

8) The students should get every year some field training in the concerned industries of their specialization and research organizations like CSIR laboratories. This would help them considerably to acquire practical knowledge in the field. In this process, industry should get an opportunity to know the knowledge and the skill of the student. A smart student may get assurance from the industry for getting the job even before completion of his or her studies.

Conclusion

In order to maintain the standard, each technical institute should publicize the detailed programme of their activities in the internet. These should include curriculum theory and practices, the expertise available in the teaching community, the facilities for carrying out practical training, development of employability skills and industrial training. The performance of the concerned institute should be reviewed every year by the experts from HRD Ministry, AICTE, industries, research and management organizations through video conference and the recommendations should be implemented accordingly.

By reforming higher technical education, the employability of graduates will be improved immensely and also nation’s productivity.

*(Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, India)