AICTE drafts blueprint to customize engineering to serve industry better

New Delhi: India’s engineering schools may have to redraw their education offerings and make their courses more industry-worthy, according to a plan chalked out by the country’s technical education regulator.

With unemployabilty of engineers at a high, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) under the human resource development ministry has crafted a blue print to make engineering colleges and universities offer customized, localized engineering education to serve the needs of local industries.

The regulator also seeks to establish 20 hubs where the industry and academia can meet for customized curricula, joint research, sponsored projects, industry funding and incubation centres. Two government officials separately confirmed the plan.

“There is evidence to point out that the current industry-academia interaction requires improvement,” the plan document noted, recommending to keep in mind “local industry ecosystem requirements—for instance, aerospace and IT engineering in Bengaluru vicinity, automotive in Chennai and Pune—into consideration while creating new capacities or increasing the existing capacities to deepen domain knowledge and to meet the industry requirements”.

Creating clusters of industries and academic institutions would go a long way in helping academia collaborate with their respective industries. The major advantage of setting up these hubs is to create training facilities and internships for students and thus groom them for a solid career foundation, as per the plan.

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Several industry studies have shown how a majority of engineering graduates are struggling to find jobs due to their lack of efficiency, a point industry leaders have highlighted on several occasions.

According to 2018-19 official data, while 2.71 million engineering seats were available, less than 1.4 million were filled. In the same year, only 591,856 students got placements. In 2017-18, a little over 552,328 engineering students had got placements and in 2016-17, the number was 561,232.

In March, chief of American technology major IBM Ginni Rometty spoke of matching skill sets for job openings. “You have got to believe in a few different things than I think you believed in the past. One is to believe that skills are perhaps more important than a degree,” she had said at a conference in India.

“The intake capacity at engineering schools has jumped manifold, but the quality of education, industry linkage has been a constant problem,” said one of the two officials cited above, both of whom spoke under condition of anonymity. “The focus on industry linkage, joint research and incubation facility at institutions level will have to get the priority,” the official said.

Industry-academia cooperation in India is very low, shows government data. In terms of funds received for setting up a department, cell or a laboratory, about 419 institutes received up to `5 lakh from industry, while only 46 institutes received `1 crore or above. India is home to over 6,200 engineering colleges.

As per the plan documents, all engineering schools need to have two industry representatives in their advisory board. It also talks about mandatory apprenticeship or training of the shop floor for all students over the next five years.

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