PUBLIC EYEThe initiative was to have provided a level playing field for job aspirants

When young engineering aspirants enter the hallowed portals of their colleges, most see the four-year professional course as a sure-shot ticket to a job. But dreams come crashing down for a vast majority of students in tier-II and tier-III colleges when they discover that the engineering job formula barely works, and that campus placements are largely restricted to the bigger and more reputed colleges.

So what happens to the tens of thousands of students who don’t make it through campus placements? In a bid to provide an infrastructure, somewhat similar to the erstwhile employment exchange system, the State government in 2009 started the Central Placement Cell (CPC). However, this laudable initiative, touted as a panacea to an inequitable system, appears to be languishing.

Poor publicity

The CPC has barely been able to place around a quarter of the over 20,000 applicants annually. Poorly publicised, the initiative has not made its mark on the recruitment scene, either with colleges or with employers. Most students, even in Bangalore, who spoke to The Hindu, did not appear to know about it.

By the CPC's own admissions, it placed 1,844 candidates between July 2010 and March 2011, 4,319 between April 2011 and March 2012, and around 1,059 candidates between April and July this year. These numbers are pitiful compared to the 60,000 or so engineers who enter the job market every year in the State. Officials admitted that there are several candidates who registered themselves in 2010 still waiting to be placed.

Ill-coordinated

CPC Executive Director H.A. Keshavmurthy attributed the low placement to students’ “lack certain skills” and that they “are not fit to be employed”. But sources within CPC conceded that all was not well with the cell, which was started as a joint initiative of the Department of Labour and the Department of Higher Education. They blamed lack of coordination between the two departments for the poor performance by a well-intentioned project.

No reach

CPC officials claim that there are 150 companies — including Wipro, Tech Mahindra and HCL — that are active in recruiting candidates through it.

Moreover, it conducts job fairs every month for placements in IT, BPO, finance and accounts sectors. The officials also conceded that though the cell was conceived to cater to engineering students and professionals, the number of companies in this sector is limited. Officials say that they often counsel students to settle for non-engineering jobs.

The CPC does not have a fully functional website where students can register. Instead, they are expected to walk into the cell or email their resumes. This defeats the purpose of this initiative, which was meant to cater to students in tier-II and III cities where companies are reluctant to visit.

An official who has worked with the CPC said: “Companies generally prefer to go to top colleges such as M.S. Ramaiah, BMS College and PESIT, while students in smaller colleges are neglected.” He also added that there is no shortage of jobs but CPC’s network with colleges is far from satisfactory and hence the best don’t register with it.

CPC conducts soft skills training for the applicants so that they are equipped to take up the jobs. However, training is outsourced to private agencies and non-governmental organisations.