There was a story in today’s Hindustan Times about a paradoxical situation – a growing demand for engineers in the industry, and the growing number of unemployed technical degree holders. (I can’t bring myself to call them engineers!!!!) I read a comment that “only about 30% of the technically trained are worthy of getting a job!” Is that right, I wondered and went back to my classroom where half of our professor’s rant zoomed past our heads at super sonic speed, where we became expert copiers from books, guides and fellow classmates assignments. Were we thinking like engineers? Absolutely not!
I whole-heartedly agree that not all technical degree holders are worthy of engineering jobs. Reason? They don’t think and act like engineers. Or to put it simply, they lack the necessary quality one must have for every job – Aptitude. For entrance into most engineering colleges, aptitude is never a criteria for consideration. And it is the lack of this very aptitude, that makes students miserable in engineering colleges (yeah, in spite of the exuberance of college life.) There is no escaping the feeling once they land a job that they don’t enjoy.
So what has this to do with the GIGO phenomenon, you ask? Simply that we feed in inapt students to the engineering colleges and inapt engineers come out of them. GIGO you see, Garbage In, Garbage Out. These students, who turn into inefficient (and sometimes unemployed engineers) are the worst hit. They are expected to take life-defining decisions at the age of fifteen, with little or no help provided to them. How in the Heaven’s name can a tenth class student decide to be an electronics engineer when he hasn’t so much as heard of a diode? How will a girl of fourteen know she can make a good neuro-surgeon when she has never laid hands on a scalpel? Is it really the fault of these young students to opt for engineering or MBA following the lure of overseas positions and MNC jobs paying high salaries? Their parents, their teachers all talk about future prospects in a particular field, who talks to them about aptitude? Who tells them that for every one person who has excelled in the field of engineering and medicine, there are ten others who have not, who are unhappy and dissatisfied? Who tells these bright ambitious middle class students that there are so many career options available?
When I was a teenager about to choose a field, other career options like teaching, architecture, interior designing were ‘soft options’ or for those who could not get into professional courses. There was a social stigma attached to these careers. That, combined with the lack of aptitude evaluation led to basically two choices – medicine or engineering. Why do we take such blind risk with our lives? Why can’t our school courses include aptitude evaluation?
Wouldn’t it be great if we were tested for our natural ability to do things as well as ability to learn? And then shown the direction our life could take. So that when we walk into a college, it will be towards a career, not a meaningless degree. So that every professionally qualified individual became an asset to our country, not a liability joining the throngs of the unemployed. So that all of us loved our jobs, leading contented lives. So that all of us found our happiness within ourselves.