The job scene in Odisha’s engineering campuses has witnessed many changes over the last two decades.
As a student hailing from one of the Government Engineering colleges in Bhubaneswar during the late 90s, our career options were limited. Number of private companies coming for campuses were handful. MBA was considered as a ticket to stardom, GATE was the next best option for the serious techies. IES for the more determined and no one had heard of GRE back then. Also studying abroad was a distant dream and was not considered a practical option.
Large majority of us were clueless about what to do after graduation. Odisha was ripe for the next unemployment wave and then thankfully the IT boom happened.
It started as a trickle with a few graduates initially absorbed by this little known company called ‘Infosys’ that paid really well. The students who got through pocketed 12000 per month which was seen as a good pay, bench-marked against PSUs which paid up to 5000 per month.
The real mass hiring that happened in our campus for the first time was in 1998 – a relatively lesser known IT company called TCS ended up hiring close to 40% of our batch of 120 graduates. Even though TCS was a mass recruiter then, they were still quite selective. Only Electronics/Electrical/
So why am I mentioning all this?
Because it’s important to understand how things were before the arrival of IT industry, which became the 160 billion dollar monster of today. It eventually ended up devouring all engineering graduates along the way, resulting in multiple campus job offers for many graduates.
Now take a look at the below chart which plots the number of engineering graduates every year against number of net jobs generated by IT industry.
See that massive gap on the right side between the red and blue line. Who is going to fill that gap?
Nobody seems to have an answer. We are looking at absolute blood bath in the private education sector. The problem is much more serious in Odisha where nearly 100 engineering colleges which sprouted in Odisha over the last decade, fueled by unaccounted funds from the state’s mining boom are in deep crisis. In 2015 itself, 30000 of the 46000 total B.Tech seats remained vacant.
So who is facing the extreme heat here(literally)? Is it the private college owners?
Think again. The elite in Odisha, amongst themselves operate a large number of businesses. Dig deep down and you will see the same set of people operating media, mining and other lucrative businesses in the state. Education is just another viable business option for them, if not a college – the space can be utilized and encashed as real estate.
The real problem is for the youth of our State.
We have a growing population and not a declining one! If these students are not going to engineering schools, they have to go somewhere. Where will that be? Who is going to fill up that massive gap between demand and supply?
Take Rohan*(name changed for anonymity) – a 23 year old who completed his engineering from one of Odisha’s top private engineering college (name withheld). He and his parents(just like thousands of other students) were lured by the false placement promises made by the college. Numbers are bloated and figures made fancier to appease parents. After 3 years of a dream run, reality hits you in the face during placement seasons. None of the promised companies turn up and of the 5 to 6 organizations which do, they take students in very limited capacities. Majority of the students pack their bags and leave for Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai to do ‘Industry ready’ courses – which are like boosters of 2 to 3 months that are supposed to turn you into an overnight coding wizard (something which you haven’t been able to master in 4 years) and then look for jobs. These jobs pay anywhere close to Rs 8000 – Rs 15000.
Serious thought needs to be given to this problem which is glaring us in the face. Specially with the formation of separate Skill Development Unit and other such initiatives, this needs to be number one priority for the Government. Migration of educated youth to metros need to be curbed too by generating employment options within the State.
There are lot more factors around the world right now, that can make this terrible situation a hellish one. But that is a topic of discussion for another day.
For now the party has ended for engineering colleges and everyone involved is going to wake up with a very bad hangover.
[Contributed by Jagmohan Swain with few edits from The Broken Scooter team]