Engineering appears to be losing its attraction as a top career option among Indians.
The number of students getting admitted to government and private engineering colleges and institutes — excluding IITs and NITs — is recording a steady decline, by at least 100,000 in the past two years.
Barely half of the number of seats across the country got filled last year.
The All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) discussed the worrying trend at a recent meeting after states such as Odisha and Madhya Pradesh asked the human resource development (HRD) ministry to conduct a demand-supply analysis before granting approval to new engineering institutes.
The trend could be attributed to a near-stagnated job market for engineers or availability of a glut of career options for students from non-engineering fields.
Jobs have dried up, with just one out of three engineering students getting campus placements.
Placements have increased from 31% in 2013-14 to about 40% last session, but as has the number of graduates from new institutes that have come up in the past few years and private colleges, which have increased their seats.
These are churning out more graduates than there are jobs. Besides, most of the students don’t meet expectations of companies offering placement.
“A majority of students graduating from engineering institutes don’t have the required skills and knowledge for specific jobs. Naturally, they don’t get employed. Faculties at engineering institutes are a cause of worry too,” said Deepak Pental, former vice-chancellor of Delhi University.
A NASSCOM survey in 2011 says only 25% graduates working in the Indian IT sector have the required skills. The situation has not changed much a decade on.
“Many new engineering colleges are coming up every year. The AICTE grants them approval if the infrastructure and faculty requirements are in place. But one needs to examine the demand and supply, an HRD ministry official said.
The AICTE’s own data say more than 800,000 students were admitted to state-run and private engineering institutes in 2015-16, but only 340,000 got jobs.
“We are ending up opening teaching shops across the country. It should definitely be assessed whether there is a demand for such institutes as many seats are also lying vacant,” Pental said.
The AICTE, which grants approvals to institutes, said enrolment has been down because many students are opting for tech institutes of private universities.
“Private institutes have increased their seats substantially, without seeking our approval. That means we don’t have updated data on recent enrolments,” a senior AICTE official said.
In Odisha, there are 221 engineering institutes with an approved intake of 97,590 students, but only 47,601 took admission in the previous academic year.
Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, 82,048 students took admission in 299 engineering institutes, though the intake capacity is 149,796.