Abstract:- work and the changing global economy demand

Abstract:- Engineerswillplayan important roleinsolving
globalchallengesrelated toenergy, healthcareand environment.  With this in mind, engineers need to
understand multiple disciplines and work in that are culturally and
philosophically  diverse in a
collaborative manner.  To be successful
in the new world order, engineers today need to cultivate not
justcommunication  andsocial skills but
also beabletoexplain science andtechnology 
toasociety that is increasingly 
more doubtful of itsimpact and intentions despite enjoying the comforts
that come with the progress inengineering 
&technology. To prepare engineers for the global workplace, it is clear
that the traditional engineering curriculum which is more focused on delivery
of technical know-how which will not be sufficient. There exists a gap in the
requirement of the industry and the skills possessed by engineering graduates.
Thisgap will widen  unless significant
steps are taken to address these gaps. In this paper, we try to explore the
aspects of curriculum design, teaching modes, and methods of assessment that
have being proposed by different researchers and also present our perspective.

 

I.                   
Introduction

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Engineering   education
is
at an important juncture   more
than ever before. 
 Although   basic
engineering concepts  don’t  change,  the  knowledge   explosion,   the  ever-increasing    complexity   in which
 engineers
work  and  the  changing   global  economy   demand  for  new  paradigms   to shape
 professional   skill  sets and competencies   of new engineering   graduates 1.  Engineers today need  to  work  with  an  understanding    of  multiple   disciplines   in  collaborative    teams 
 that  are culturally  and  philosophically   diverse;  cultivate  complex
 communication   and social
 skills.
 And,
 among
other  things,  they  need  to be able to explain
 science
 and technology 
 to a society  that  is increasingly
more doubtful  of its impact
 and intentions  despite  enjoying
 the comforts  that
come with the progress
 in
engineering   & technology.   The  growing 
 pace  of  innovation,   both  in terms
 of products  and  business models,  is also  likely
to make  the job  of an engineer  quite  challenging.   Overall,  engineers   must  learn to work  with  ambiguity/uncertainty,     diversity  of disciplines   and with  humility  regarding  their
 own
 skills
and abilities.

 

Engineering   education   should  therefore   not  merely  focus  on  local
 challenges   but  should attend  to  regional  and  global
 opportunities.   Workplace   demands  that  future
 engineers   be technically
qualified,  flexible,   problem  solvers,  creative
 and
 dynamic
 thinkers,   however  classroom   practices  and learning  spaces
 have not really adapted  themselves  to best facilitate  such learning.

 

It  is  clear  that  a  traditional   engineering    curriculum   that  is  heavy 
 in  technical   content 
 will  not  be sufficient    to 
 prepare 
 engineers    for 
 the 
 global 
 workplace.   There  
 is 
 a 
 significant    gap 
 between    what 
 undergraduate engineering   students   are  taught 
 and  assessed   and  what  the  professional   engineers   and  industry practitioners   expect  them  to  be capable  of. This
 gap
 will
 significantly   widen  unless  intentional,   well- targeted  measures  are put into place  in engineering   education  to specifically  foster  skills required to succeed
in the 21st century workplace. Engineering education  leadership   should  therefore  take
 a
targeted,   systemic,   integrated   approach   in which   learning  outcomes,   curriculum   design,  classroom   practices, learning  and assessment   tasks  all
have to be coherently   crafted  and  implemented   so as to facilitate
 a
significantly   meaningful  experience
 for the student.

 

II.                 
Employability of Engineering Graduates

 

National Employability Report, 2016 by Aspiring Minds 2 for the
first time this year looked into the employability of specialized and new
careers that are available to engineers, other than core IT and software roles.
It revealed that less than 8 per cent of Indian engineers are employable in
core engineering roles. The nationwide analysis based on a sample of 150,000
engineers showed that most engineers lacked the necessary skills to work in the
large industry. Low employability of engineers will impede the growth of
manufacturing in India in a big way, and needs immediate intervention. 
The government’s ambitious Make in India initiative aspires to create
manufacturing capacity in India and generate 100 million jobs by 2022. Such
manufacturing workforce will be managed and led by a huge number of engineers
in various fields such as mechanical engineering, civil and electrical
engineering. Engineers will also largely contribute to product designs,
enhancement and implementation.

 

The National Employability report has given the employability of
engineering graduates in terms of roles required to be fulfilled in different
sectors of engineering. Engineers are absorbed in many different job profiles
and sectors in the industry. Within the IT sector we study employability in
roles like IT Product, IT Services and Associate ITeS Operations. The report
has also included the employability of engineers in a Startup-Ready engineering
role. Other than IT and core engineering profiles, the report also looks at
alternate careers which are available to engineers. These include roles such as
Technical Content Developer, Analyst and Sales Engineers. Given that IT jobs
are not growing at the same pace as before, engineers are pursuing different
kinds of roles that draw on their analytical/technical skills. The employment
of engineers in these roles will only grow with time and it is important to
capture the employability trends in them.

 

Figure 1: Employability Percentage of Engineering
Graduates in Different Roles

 

The employability of engineering graduates in different roles is
shown in Figure 1. A worryingly low employability percentage of 3.67% has been
observed for Software Engineer ? IT Product role. This is because jobs in IT
product companies require a strong understanding of computer programming and
algorithms. The study found that candidates strongly lacked the required
skills: around 90.72% of graduating engineers do not have the desired
programming and algorithm skills required for IT product companies, whereas
72.77% show lack of soft-skills and 59.40% lack cognitive skills. The
employability of engineers in IT services companies is 17.91%. The hiring
criterion for this industry is that the candidate should be trainable in
technical and soft skills. This requires both a basic command of language and
technical skills, together with requisite cognitive skills to respond to
training in a short period of time. Considering these rather lax requirements,
the fact that only 17.91% of the graduates are trainable into software
engineers within a period of 3 to 6 months, is alarming to say the least. A
similar trend is seen elsewhere. Employability in the domain specific roles as
reported is the highest for electronics engineers at 7.07 per cent, which is
considerably lower when compared to employability in IT roles like software
engineer. IT services and associate ITeS operations (hardware networking)
employability stands at 17.91 per cent and 37.06 per cent, respectively. The
lowest employability percentage has been recorded for the chemical design
engineer role at 1.64 per cent.

 

It is evident from these grim employability figures that there
exists a deep chasm between the actual skills of engineers and the skills
expected from them on the job. The chasm, if not overcome timely will result in
an inevitable loss of human resources. There is thus a dire need of assessments
that can be used to test engineers, provide them with relevant feedback and
help them improve their skills.

 

III.              
Reasons for low employability of engineering graduates

 

At long last a debate has been initiated in the media
on the topic of employability of engineering graduates and it seems that the
country has started realizing that the Indian higher education system needs
immediate serious attention 3. It has received further importance as the
President of India has been expressing his concern in every possible forum. The
Knowledge Commission of India headed by Sam Pitroda has said that the country
will need more than 1,500 universities by 2015 to provide opportunities of
higher education to eligible Indian youths. According to A. K. Sarkar and
S. K. Choudhary 3, there is lack of proper planning, appropriate guidelines,
and corrective measures while sanctioning new institutions and disciplines.
Thus a large number of institutions are being established taking only profit
into consideration and with little emphasis on quality of education. Most of
the technical education institutions including the better known ones are
understaffed and lack in qualified, competent and suitable faculty members.

 

In most of the engineering institutions the course
curriculum is, by and large, theoretical in nature and students are not made
aware of the applications of the theories in industry. The programmes and their
course content reflect lack of interaction among academic institutions and
industries. In the process the curriculum quite often fails to meet the needs
of the industries. Moreover, the institutions mostly follow the traditional
method of teaching giving little thought to the fact that information nowadays
is readily available on the net and thus students would not get interested
unless they get something extra by attending classes. It is more of content
delivery than knowledge delivery. The assignments given quite often are routine
and do not involve any research or innovation. It is a great challenge to
motivate and attract students to serious learning. Moreover, the evaluation
system has not been made robust enough to find out the knowledge level of the
students. Thus they are applied in a routine manner and the students
concentrate only on grades and not on learning.

 

Professor Helen Atkinson & Martin Pennington 4 in their
research have found that there is a fair degree of consensus amongst employers
about the kind of skills that they sought from new graduates. In general, these
included leadership, team working, communication and interpersonal skills,
analysis/problem-solving, creativity/ innovation, planning and organizing,
business understanding/commercial awareness and performance. The study also
found that graduates often lack the ability to apply their technical skills and
knowledge in a business or workplace context, describing this as not just the
ability to recall engineering principles and techniques (important though this
is), but also an almost innate feel for how these could be applied to a
particular problem. This factor was regarded as relating to whether or not
graduates had significant work experience and had no particular connection to
degree class.

 

 Abdullah
5 in his work has stated that graduates are not fully equipped with the
necessary soft skills to survive in the working field. Some of the areas
identified by the respondents in this survey are communication skills,
expressing ideas, putting ideas across, English proficiency, problem solving,
perform tasks independently, work in a group, and social skills. According to
him, some respondents view soft skills such as presentation, marketing own
self, analytical ability, and self confidence as a crucial components in the
work places. In the same study, it came across that many employers indicate
precisely that university should focus more on practical knowledge and
experience, as opposed to theoretical knowledge. They recommended that universities
must provide courses which are relevant and can be matched with the market
needs. Knowledge acquired by the engineers was not really applicable and only a
small number of the recruits fulfilled the competencies required.

 

A major factor for the rising University-Industry gap according to
Ayofe et al 6 is the changing pattern of working in industries. The current
trends in the world of work such as globalization, commercialization,
flexi-hour, deregulation, outsourcing, contract work, homework and freelancing
have led to marked changes in industry structure. New forms of work structures which are
flexible, adaptable, less hierarchical, and multi-skilled and which encourage
continuous learning are becoming sources of competitive advantage in
industries. International competition for jobs and workers has also
intensified, leading to the global talent hunt for innovation-driven knowledge workers. At a time when the global knowledge-based
economy places an ever-growing premium on the talent, creativity, and
efficiency of the workforce, business leaders talk of a widening gap between
the skill their organizations need to grow and the capabilities of their
employees. Finding the right candidates to fill a growing list of vacant
positions is a number one concern of business leaders today. Research shows
that the shifts in workforce demographics affect the availability of labor to
fill high-skilled jobs. Ironically, skill gaps result from technological
advancements.

 

IV.               
Skill
Sets required for a global workforce

 

Technology and socio-economic trends are constantly changing
business models and how work is organized. The skills which were needed twenty
years back might not be relevant today and nearly half of all the jobs are
predicted to be at a risk of automation, while at the same time, an entire new
set of jobs are emerging. These are the jobs which fulfill the consumer’s
expectation of getting practically everything “on-demand”. These jobs need a
workforce which is skilled enough to create and manage such systems 7.

 

Apart from the domain knowledge, the other parameters a candidate
is judged on while looking out for a job include Communication skills, Computer
skills, Numerical & Logical aptitude, Critical Thinking and few behavioral
traits like Learning Agility, Adaptability, Interpersonal Skills, Emotional
Intelligence, Conflict Resolution, Self Determination 7.

 

It is observed that traditional engineering education practices
like lectures and lab sessions are not enough in the current scenario in
preparing engineering students for being effective professionals. This is truer
when lectures turn out to be monotonous laboratories are recipe driven rather
than inquiry driven. Traditional classroom practices encourage a within a
compartmentalized curriculum. Therefore, it is important for engineering
education to understand the importance of a curriculum that focuses and
interdisciplinary projects, tasks and assignments. Such activities require
students to be strategies, be acquainted with high be able to participate in
team building activities and forge collaborative partnerships amongst
multidisciplinary teams 8.

 

Alan Parkinson 9 defines a new set of skills, which he
collectively refers to as “global competence”, and has compiled a
list of 13 dimensions of global competence:

1. Appreciation of other cultures

2. Ability to communicate across cultures

3. Familiarity with the history, government and economic systems
of several countries.

4. Ability to speak a second language, at a conversational level.

5. Ability to speak a second language at a professional (i.e.
technical) level.

6. Proficiency in working in or directing a team of ethnic and
cultural diversity.

7. Ability to effectively deal with ethical issues arising from
cultural or national differences.

8. Understanding of cultural differences relating to product
design, manufacture and use.

9. Understanding of the connectedness of the world and the
workings of the global economy.

10. Understanding of the implications of cultural differences on
how engineering tasks might be approached.

11. Some exposure to international aspects of topics such as
supply chain management, intellectual property, liability and risk, and
business practices.

 

As part of initiatives taken at Thakur College of Engineering &
Technology, a survey was conducted during the Research & Development meet
on 5th January, 2018. The meet was an effort by the institute to
bring together participants from other engineering institutes, eminent researchers
and industry personnel to deliberate on the need and ways to improve the
research culture at undergraduate engineering institutes. The survey tried to
address the technical skill gaps existing in the current curriculum and the
ways to bridge the gaps. Although the survey does not address the need for
non-technical skills, nevertheless it is a step in the right direction. The
survey conducted, had the following questions:

1.      
Is skill-based
training to the future workforce of India will make a huge impact in our lives
and will benefit our communities in the times to come?

2.      
The current
pace of industry and labour market changes mean that some curriculum is
outdated much before a student completes his education.

3.      
The curriculum
needs to be made in collaboration with the industry, and if possible, joint
certifications/degrees between the academic institutes and industry.

4.      
Can industry
participation in technology development involving some exploratory work be
useful in bridging the gap?

5.      
Can academic
intervention in solving industry problems be a step to bridging the gap?

6.      
Is
Participation of industrial experts in curriculum design important?

7.      
Visiting
faculty from industry should be called?

8.      
Collaborative
Educational Programmes should be organized?

9.      
The faculty
members should be given Training programmes / Short term assignments in
industries.

 

References

 

1.      
Facilitating 21st century  skills  in
engineering students

2.      
National
Employability Report, 2016 by Aspiring Minds

3.      
http://www.businesstoday.in/opinion/deep-dive/a.-k.-sarkar-s.k.-choudhury-on-engineering-students-employment/story/205041.html, A.K Sarkar is Senior Professor, Department of Civil Engineering,
BITS Pilani. S.K Choudhary is Associate Professor Department of Humanities
& Social Sciences at the same institute.

4.      
Professor
Helen Atkinson & Martin Pennington (2012) Unemployment of engineering
graduates: the key issues, Engineering Education, 7:2, 7-15

5.      
Bridging the
Gap Between Industry and Higher Education Demands on Electronic Graduates’
Competencies

6.      
Exploration
of Gap between Computer Science Curriculum and industrial IT skills requirement

7.      
India-skills-report-2017

8.      
Facilitating
Professional Skills Through Student Engagement Activities For The Holistic Development
of the Learner, Preethi Kona

9.      
Alan
Parkinson, The Rationale for Developing Global Competence, The Online Journal for
Global Engineering Education, The Berkeley Electronic Press, 2009,
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/ojgee/voI4/iss2/2.

10.     

 

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