By Abid Hussain
Contemporarily, education is very much essential to build a good career. Students wander here and there for right career advice and best guidance after their school education. Here, I’m referring to those students who chose the science stream in the 12th standard. After this students appear in Kashmir JEE Mains, JKCET and other engineering entrance exams for admission into top engineering colleges.
We actually have a craze for professional courses in Kashmir. This reflects the society’s “status hypocrisy”. People here accustomed to the word engineer and consider it as a synonym for hard work and Success. Our society doesn’t welcome the prospect of young people studying and following up on arts or commerce courses and streams. Engineering from any of the thousand colleges in India is considered respectable in our society. For students of Kashmir, career choices are made by their families, relatives and even the neighborhood!
Coming to the colleges providing engineering courses, we have almost 14 colleges producing around 1000 engineers annually excluding those who did it from outside colleges and diploma holders. We now have an army of engineers. This is good no doubt but why there is an effort to make everyone an engineer? The ill effects are now seen as unemployment in engineering stream is increasing year after year. There was a time when unemployment was seen regarding a graduate from any degree college but now engineers here are also joining the queue. According to a 2016 report by a Job Skills credentialing company, Aspire Minds, nearly 80 percent of engineering graduates in India are not employable.
When we complete engineering, we expect placement drives will be held in the campuses but barring few colleges, no college or university holds placement drives after course completion. Students go home with empty hands and then have to wait for 3 to 4 years for any recruitment by the administration. The reason may be we are not producing high calibers engineers and may be with inadequate faculty and facilities, it is not surprising that the students who pass out of such institutes are ill equipped to deal with the demands of the job market. Jobs require practical knowledge; it is not like rote learning and scoring 100 in exams. People here are applying for posts which are well below their technical qualification. People are going for 10+2 qualification posts even after completing engineering. Students after completing M Tech are searching jobs on the lower rung of the labor market. They then become frustrated and hopeless after so much of hard work.
A candidate here waits 3 to 4 years for JKSSB JE posts. This problem was not seen before because of fewer candidates competing for jobs. Let us take the Civil Engineering branch most preferred here for all the bad reasons; 14 colleges produce annually 700 Civil Engineers; thrown in another 1000 from outside colleges and the number shoots about to 1700. Now multiply 1700 x4. This gives use a number of 6800 in 4 years but the JKSSB comes with some odd 200 posts, that is, only 3% get a government job and rest have very few options. With a lackadaisical or non- existent private sector in Kashmir, the problem becomes acute.
Powers that be must realize that mushrooming colleges with zero facilities can only produce an army of illiterates. Instead of opening new colleges, the administration should do something to make use of these professionals. It should come up with a scheme on the same pattern like ReT, and recently ReK. And, Startups should be encouraged. Organizations like the JKPCCC, JKERA should come forward and adjust them. Unless the things are not set right in future, engineering graduates will continue to flood the market but remain jobless. Time has then come for the administration to come up with a policy for the unemployed engineering graduates in Kashmir.
—The author has studied at the IUST, Awantipora. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org