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Upskilling Today's Engineering Students: An Immediate Necessity

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Upskilling Today's Engineering Students: An Immediate Necessity

Arman Ahmed, Co-Founder & CEO, EdYoda

A serial entrepreneur, Arman has incepted three companies – Dreams Boulevard, zekeLabs, and EdYoda – and has even worked with TCS and BT.

In an exclusive interaction with CEO Insights, Arman shares his insights about the ongoing job trends in the engineering vertical, the current skill deficit among job aspirants, and many other factors.

1. What are your thoughts on the current engineering job market in India as well as on the trends that can greatly impact and revolutionize its present state?
I am really positive about the job market. As business is accelerating towards Industry 4.0, the demand for skilled talent is at an all time high. In fact to some extent there’s more competition between the employers than employees for skilled talent in the market. You would think if there are jobs, why do we end-up talking about unemployability in India so often. Yes, there are employment challenges. The catch is, while the job opportunities are expanding the talent is not upskilling fast enough to capitalize on the opportunities. The challenges are majorly employability challenges.

At the entry level jobs, there’s a major disconnect between the academia and the industry. The curriculum is either outdated or isn’t evolving fast enough based on the need and demands of the industry. The employers need skills that can add business value today, while our graduates are either not taught at all or taught too little on the skills that are relevant to industry.

At the lateral level, the employees are needed to be reskilled for skills of the Industry 4.0. The skills that paid really well while they joined the industry are no longer relevant.

Focus on reskilling and upskilling on skills relevant to today’s need will be the way ahead. Today’s workforce needs to learn the skills needed to survive in today’s time. Companies such as Accenture, Infosys, Cognizant, Tech Mahindra, and Mphasis are making a massive effort to reskill and prepare employees for the future.

2. Today, it is evident that most of the engineering students are struggling to get employed, while majority of the employed students are ending-up in non-core jobs. How do you think the educational institutions
ought to re-devise their teaching system & content in line with the industry requirements?
First and foremost, the educational systems need to be more connected with the industry. Today, digital technologies change in months if not weeks. The education system can’t prepare the students by staying too far from the industry. Focus on designing curriculum in consultation with industry leaders, constant curriculum revision, focusing on hands-on learning or learning by doing are some of the necessary steps that are becoming the need of the hour. Shortening the duration of the programs and promoting apprenticeship while in college will bring a lot of value to students.

3. On the other hand, what do you think employers are looking for among the current engineering graduates? How can they cut-down on the huge training costs incurred even after hiring skilled engineering graduates?
Employers are looking for skilled talent that can add business value. Apart from intrinsic skills like problem solving, critical thinking skills, ability to become life long learners which are crucial, they are looking at graduates who are production-ready with minimum training and in shortest time. After all, they are hiring to get work done and not to re-educate you. They expect the talent to come prepared for the industry relevant skills. However, the talent available is generally not ready for the industry after college. They require significant training and guidance. A lot of employers have started hiring from skilling platforms training young talent these industry relevant skills. TCS, Infosys, TechM and other MNCs spend huge amount of money to train talent after hiring. They even have huge campuses to support these training programs. Mid level companies and startups often struggle here, and this is where new age education companies are helping them hire industry ready talent, saving them a lot of costs and training time.

4. How should the present engineering students hone their skillsets to become industry-ready? What suggestions do you have for them?
First and foremost, be ready to learn. Industry is evolving at a pace very few had anticipated. Today’s illiterate are not those who can’t read and write, but those who can’t learn, unlearn and relearn. Learnabilty is the first skill to master. Stay in touch with today’s reality, spend active hours to learn skills, and know about how the industry is evolving. Knowledge has become really accessible, and students should make a good use of it. Reach-out to industry folks while you are in college. You will be surprised to know that a lot of them genuinely want to help partly because they have been there. Talk about the expectations in the industry and learn those skills.

Spend active time learning skills, not in your textbooks and even cross disciplinary skills. Follow popular and reliable sources of information on the internet, twitter, LinkedIn or blogs, whatever suits you. Do a lot of projects, doing is the best way of learning. Apart from domain specific skills, learn intrinsic skills needed in the 21st century.

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