Survey was based on a test taken by 55,000 students in colleges across the country

The National Employability Report 2011 released recently by IT minister Kapil Sibal has some shocking news for the engineers from Tamil Nadu. Only 10 per cent of the engineering graduates from the State roped in by IT companies are employable — a figure that places the State at the bottom of the list of 16 surveyed.

The survey included students from government engineering colleges and self financed engineering institutions, many from Chennai, and the rest from colleges across the State.

The report, prepared by employability assessment company Aspiring Minds, says only 17.45 per cent of the engineers roped in by the IT sector are employable nationally. Tamil Nadu, which has the second-largest pool of engineering students, next only to Andhra Pradesh, fails when it comes to the employability factor, particularly when compared to states such as Delhi and Bihar (35 per cent employability in each) that are among the best performers.

The study was based on a test taken by 55,000 students in different colleges across the country and had questions to evaluate the aptitude, technical skills and communication skills of final year engineering students. “The other States in the bottom are Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. The results directly reflect the dip in quality of engineering graduates in states which have a high concentration of engineering colleges,” says Aspiring Minds co-founder Himanshu Agarwal.

“These states have done well to increase the capacity and fulfil the appetite of the IT industry, but there is lot more to be done to improve the quality,” he says.

Even on the technical side, students from Bihar and Jharkhand have the highest scores. Karnataka and Kerala seem to be the only southern states that have fared reasonably well.

While industry experts agree with the findings, senior professors and heads of educational institutions feel the results ignore several crucial aspects related to the State. “Our students may lose out on communication skills, because culturally, there is less exposure to communicating with talking to people. This affects their confidence levels and leadership skills which is what the IT industry looks for, but these children, even those from rural colleges, are good technically,” says C. Thangaraj, vice-chancellor, Anna University of Technology.

The sample size is also a problem, says R. Krishnan, a senior professor, Anna University. “Many children here go abroad to study and a considerable number get into the best global software firms too. So the ones who are part of the study, may not be the best lot from the State, while their counterparts from other States might be,” he says. However, the issue of quality definitely needs to be addressed, he says, “but not in the light of employability alone though, but if our students actually know what they are doing and how sound is their domain knowledge.”

“Also, why should one worry if mechanical, electrical and civil engineering students are not employable in IT firms. The skill sets required in every industry is different and it is unfair to club them,” says S. Vaidhyasubramaniam, Dean (Planning and Development), SASTRA University. The problem of students not being equipped with technical skills can also be due to the shortage of trained faculty, and need not necessarily reflect the quality of the students, he says.

“Recruiters flock to the southern part of the country because they know they get to choose from a large number of graduates,” says Mr. Agarwal. As per NASSCOM records, Tamil Nadu, with 40,000 recruits has the highest number of students placed this year. Of these, 16,000 were recruited from 25 engineering colleges across the State.

Industry heads, however, have mixed views on this. “The IT sector has not flourished in every state. If it has here, it is because of the adoption of technology,” K. Jayaramakrishnan, vice president, TCS. “Graduates here have fewer problems on the technical side now than they used to Emphasising communication training from the second year of college itself is key,” he says.

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