Practical training at institutes comes in handy for students joining engineering courses through lateral entry

It is that time of the year when students of city schools are busy zeroing in on engineering courses of their choice. But for many who cannot afford them, polytechnic institutes provide a launch-pad for their aspirations.

Of the 15 polytechnics in Chennai, a major chunk has been recording full strength. “There are 15 new polytechnic colleges coming up every year in the state, which tells us a lot about placement opportunities,” said Central Polytechnic College Principal K.Sundaramoorthy.

While the affordability factor drives rural students towards polytechnics, many also seek admission for the hands-on experience that they get in these institutes. “The number of students taking up jobs always outnumbers those going in for engineering after diploma.”

The practical training at the institutes comes in handy for students going for engineering courses through lateral entry. The syllabus for mathematics, however, needs to be reworked to make it more competitive and help students cope up with the academics if and when they opt for engineering, he said.

The website of the Directorate of Technical Education (DOTE) has been spruced up, with information on the admission procedures, placement records and infrastructural facilities in each government polytechnic college in the state.

While the DOTE is promoting the scope of polytechnics through its website, officials make sure the economically backward remain their priority. “If one looks at non-IT placements in both polytechnics and engineering colleges, polytechnics have a better placement record. The institutes are primarily catering to those who find engineering unaffordable,” said Kumar Jayant, Commissioner of Technical Education.

The growth in core sector companies such as automobile, auto components, light engineering and electronic manufacturing has triggered the demand for diploma holders, he said.

Some of the colleges such as the 60-year-old SIGA Polytechnic College have begun to attract MNCs in the recent years. “Despite the wide-spread predictions that printing would go obsolete, our printing technology courses are doing well in terms of admissions and placements. We tell our students older technology will only co-exist with newer ones and not fade away altogether,” said its Principal P. T. Joseph.

Some of the other core courses in polytechnics such as textile technology, petrochemical engineering, film technology, and prosthetics and orthotics engineering are gaining popularity. The placement record in most institutes stands at 50 to 60 per cent, according to the website.