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Why Industry-driven Training is Critical for Employability Amongst Indian Engineers The major challenge plaguing the talent pool of fresh engineering graduates is the insufficient understanding of the fundamentals

By Jaydev V. Sanghavi

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With increasingly digitised operations and automation across the spectrum, the world is witnessing a paradigm shift in the ways businesses today are functioning. As new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Internet of Things (IoT) penetrate industries at a rapid pace, the emphasis on convenience and efficiency has evolved from just that to augmenting the roles of human teams with the use of these technologies. However, this is also a two-way street, where the demand for engineers with robust skill sets to operate and enhance the use of these advanced tools and systems is at an all-time high. The problem that lies here is that, despite a large number of engineering graduates in India every year, most of them do not have adequate skills to be deemed employable.

The Employability Scenario in the Age of Emerging Technologies:

As per a study by Aspiring Minds, over 80per cent of engineers graduating in India are unemployable due to a lack of new-age technology skills. The situation of existing employees will also be along similar lines if the necessary measures for reskilling and upskilling are not taken at regular intervals, given the rapid pace at which new technologies are changing procedures.

As per Gartner research, while Artificial Technology is likely to get rid of 1.8 million jobs by 2020, it will create an additional 2.3 million jobs within the same period. Therefore, it is essential to equip the existing and future talent pool with relevant skill sets to make the most of the opportunities to bolster the growth and development of the tech sector.

The major challenge plaguing the talent pool of fresh engineering graduates is the insufficient understanding of the fundamentals and, in turn, the practical application of core concepts of coding. The widespread implementation of Automation (AI, ML, IoT),3-D Printing, Smart-Plant software, ERP Solutions, SAP application, Digital and Cloud Technologies are propelling this demand further. There is, therefore, a growing gap in the technical knowledge across domains as well as soft skills needed to effectively handle clients amongst these graduates.

Only a handful of institutions lay emphasis on hands-on learning tailor-made according to the industry requirements of various technical domains. The majority, however, focuses primarily on theory within rigid course structures, which hinders students from gaining a deeper understanding of the subject matter. This greatly limits the extent to which fresh engineers can apply their existing skills in the professional realm.

How to Bridge This Gap Through a Practical, Focused Approach:

What engineering training in India needs today is for industry experts and academia to come together within dedicated institutes to cater to the dynamic needs of the technology industry. The focus should be on creating a curriculum that is centred on the practical application of industry-oriented skills. This will help to harness the potential of the current talent pool by enabling them to create and innovate using advanced tools for large-scale impact.

Engineering jobs of the future will require people who can not only enhance existing infrastructures, but also to design and create new, "smart' processes and systems.As per Forbes data, the portion of jobs that require AI skills has grown 4.5 times since 2013. However, skills like creativity, critical thinking, empathy and communication will also gain greater importance.Amongst those listed in the World Economic Forum's 10 critical skills for the future job market, Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Creativity and People Management are those that will be crucial in the engineering space.

While machines can crunch numbers and optimise processes, they cannot produce solutions that the innovation and creativity of humans can churn out. Additionally, the "human touch' is essential in the interaction with, and management of people.

In order to create a skillset involving the above mentioned, institutes must encourage engineers to think outside the box and learn to adapt to various situations. Engineering talent must work on real-world problems through industry projects guided by expert mentors and come up with solutions to unique situations resulting from new technology. In an increasingly machine-dominated world, engineers will need to have advanced problem-solving skills which will assess the socio-economic impact of technology, be it the development of cities, effect on people or the environment.

The advent of advanced technologies has opened up a sea of opportunities waiting to be tapped into in the technology space. With a workforce adequate in numbers but severely lacking in skills, India must flip this trend on its head by encouraging the implementation of emerging technology and associated processes at all levels – form the learning to work stages. For this, it is essential that organizations, educational institutes and engineering talent actively imbibe a culture of upskilling and reskilling through practical application and experiential learning.

Once the ball is rolling, organisations will benefit from having a large talent base which is already prepared with the relevant skill sets. On the other hand, employees will have time and space to unleash their creative and innovative best in the age of automation. This presents a win-win scenario for both, as the optimised processes and resulting impact is likely to propel the growth and development of the organisation as well as the employees for the long run.

Jaydev V. Sanghavi

Executive Director, Aarvi Encon Ltd

Jaydev V.Sanghavi is the Executive Director of Aarvi Encon Limited, a leading technical manpower outsourcing company in India. He has been with the company for 25 years, and has been instrumental in getting multiple strategic tie-ups in place, as well as in establishing the company’s Temporary Staffing division, which he heads currently.

A graduate in Chemical Engineering from Mumbai University, Jaydev joined Aarvi Encon just after he completed his degree in 1992. Through the course of his career at Aarvi Encon, he has handled various consulting assignments in Project Coordination, Operations Management, and Business Development positions. These projects were for clients such as Reliance Refinery and Telecom, and Jaydev played a key role in developing the business across a number of countries. He attended Harvard Business School in 2016, for its Executive Education Program - Leading Professional Service Firms. He has utilized his learnings at HBS to improve process and company efficiency. 

With his focused marketing and collaborative efforts, Jaydev has grown Aarvi Encon’s Temporary Staffing division manifold.

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