The first question that greets a final year student of any course is , “ Beta, placement ho gaya kya?” Being an engineer , this has resonated in my ears more than any other query. There are many who put themselves through social exclusion for fear of having to answer this question.
They say that the moment a class 12 student sets foot into the portals of an engineering college, no matter however remote and nondescript it may be, he has earned a secure future for himself. This ‘secure’ future translates to a placement offer in a services sector company and a salary package that would be meted out to him after making sure he does more than ten times the work expected of him.
Delving deeper into the world, the situation gets murkier.
Advertisements of most colleges speak volumes of all their state-of-the-art transport buses and helipads. They claim to have a fully-fledged placement unit. But does that necessarily translate to real-time job opportunities for those who have reposed trust in them? Not necessarily.
The rare few who actually make it to a job are sent through rigorous training procedures which mostly involves unlearning all that they have been taught at their respective colleges. The job at hand and the syllabus hardly go hand in hand. Jaded by the monotonousness of the 9 to 9 job at hand, many of them choose to leave their work and pursue other options.
The number of engineers who have taken to banking is no small number. A recent account provided by the SBI says that nearly 60% of their 1800 officers were engineers. This is not a case endemic to engineers. Even in the case of arts and social science colleges, a paltry number end up making the cut. The chances of ending up in a decent, engaging job spike up only with an added Masters degree to the kitty.
There are many reasons to this problem. At the age of 21 , only three years after school and a few years of specialized learning , an individual is not really read to take up the challenges of a job, whether corporate or not . Internships are the closest to real – time jobs but only a small portion of students get to do that mostly with the help of their own efforts or contacts. As for the rest of the student population, who have neither had internships nor any other exposure to a work environment, the issue of adaptability is one of prime concern.
Excellent communication skills are an important pre-requisite for any job. A worker is expected to interact with colleagues, seniors and subordinates. There are certain protocols of communication, both online and off cyberspace which require strict adherence. This is another area where a lot of students fail miserably.
They might have been top-scores at rote learning but when it comes to bunching together words, their confidence falters. At a recent gathering, senior journalist Madhu Trehan spoke of how she was called to address a team of fresh recruits by a leading media house but how none of them were even remotely acquainted or previously informed about the ethical code of conduct. Being young and alien to earning their own paycheck , many of them are lured into easy but unethical ways at being successful at their jobs.
Undergraduate education in India offers specialization. But the question is to whether young Indians with an exposure to a single field are ready to take on the hurdles that come their way at a job. Holistic education is what is the need of the hour. In ancient Greece , a citizen would not
have been able to participate in active civic life had it not been for his mastery over fields like arithmetic , music , geometry and astronomy.
While these may not be quintessential to the students of today, they certainly need exposure to varied fields of study. It often happens that what is being pursued at college fails to interest us later on in life. Instead of having to struggle to find one’s passion later, previous exposure could go a long way in cementing one’s future in one of the many fields.
There are a few institutions in India and the world where such opportunities are provided to both high-school and undergraduate students. It will take some time before we get to disprove what is said in the following quote , “So we might say that the most important thing one can acquire in college is a well-functioning bullshit meter: Andrew Delbanco”
Views expressed by the author are personal. Nanditha Sankar is a fellow from the Young India Fellowship programme of Ashoka University (Batch 2014-2015)