One Action Can Stop Millions Of Students From Being Forced Into Engineering

Posted by Prerna Munoth in Education
February 20, 2017

My child will become an engineer,” is an infamous line uttered after a child’s birth in India.

“Most parents hope that their child will fulfill their dreams and achieve great heights, and they believe this is possible only if you’re an engineer. Being an engineer has come to be more of a status symbol,” observes an engineer from a reputed college.

Nearly 1.5 million people graduate from engineering colleges every year, according to Aspiring Minds, an education solutions company,  yet, only 7% of graduates are actually employable in India. This is not surprising since the quality of education provided by most colleges is highly debatable. An engineer from a private engineering college says, “Barring IITs, NITs and a few private institutions, most colleges are more interested in making money than improving the quality of education provided by them.” 

There is also a dearth of engineering jobs, and the supply of engineering graduates is much higher than the actual demand. Yet, the vocation is still highly sought after. It is no wonder then, that the number of engineering colleges increased from 1,151 in 2006-07 to 3,345 in 2014-15. To understand why so many young people are still taking engineering, I decided to quiz 10 engineers, and received some interesting responses:

  • Only two engineers (yes two!) said they were genuinely interested in the field
  • Three quipped that they liked science and due to lack of career options, they chose engineering.
  • Not surprisingly, five of ten engineers said it was because they didn’t know what to do and trusted their parents’ choice.

With so many young people unhappy with their career, today, how can we make sure that youngsters take self-aware decisions with parental support?

When we quizzed the engineers, all ten of them responded that they would have benefitted from career counselling. However, not kind that decides what branch you should choose based on your IIT-JEE or AIEEE rank, but the kind that helps you decide if you should be an engineer at all!

The world of careers offers many job profiles today, yet, there is little awareness about them, and while it is important for students to receive counselling, isn’t it just as important for parents to equip themselves with this knowledge? After all, they are also key decision makers when it comes to a student’s education and career. Most engineers believe that career counselling should begin at the school-level in Class 8 or 9, and should be a continuous process over the next two-three years.

Some would argue that a child’s mind is fickle. Well, this can be easily rectified if parents are encouraged to actively participate in counselling sessions facilitated through aptitude tests, discussions, activities and guest speakers. They will need to keep an open mind, and more importantly, understand that this process can mitigate decisions taken without understanding the long-term consequences.

Schools should also be encouraged to host career fairs where students and parents can interact with people from various professions, including unconventional paths. Schools like Delhi Public School, Nirmal Bhartia and several international schools are already doing it.

In a country filled with so much potential, it’s disheartening to see hordes of engineers resorting to suicide, sinking into depression, or quitting their jobs because they hate what they need to do every day. Not just that. Pursuing engineering without a genuine interest is responsible for crushing the dreams of so many entrepreneurs, artists and writers. Parents play a pivotal role in shaping a child’s future, and career counselling will not only help parents recognise their potential but also save the lives of their children who give in to the pressure.

Prerna Munoth is an intern with Youth Ki Awaaz for the February-March 2017 batch.