TOPSY-TURVY events are shattering the calm on the education front. The past few years have seen a near-sudden change in the choice of the careers youngsters are making. There were times until of late when countless lakhs of youngsters were ready to waste themselves to secure an admission in any engineering college. Parents were willing to spend stunning sums of money for capitation fees for engineering admissions of their wards. It was truly a big business running engineering colleges. So, people invested massive amounts of money to create infrastructures that would attract students. But then came a dramatic downturn in youngsters’ choice for engineering as career.
Just as the popularity of engineering career had grown in a straight-upward graph, it fell in a similar contrast with the graph taking a dangerous plunge. In no time, engineering colleges started starving for admissions, and soon enough countless colleges closed shops. Of course, a few truly good engineering colleges continued to attract admissions in good numbers, but the overall vacancies in engineering colleges became a matter of national concern. So bad has the situation become now that even Government polytechnics are starving of admissions, indicating a massive and sudden shift of young people’s choice of career. The youngsters are now turning to other areas that may not actually be attractive enough, but may be offering decent job opportunities. So, the youngster who wanted badly to pursue engineering as career is suddenly turning to ayurvedic college for admission.
Many are turning to commerce or even humanities. This brings us to an important point: Massive numbers of our youngsters do not actually make a career choice out of liking or passion, but out of job security. When they realised that engineering education did not offer exactly attractive jobs, they turned away to other areas. This social shift, thus, is related to availability of decent jobs and not to choice of a career-line out of liking or passion. On one count, some may appreciate this practicalism among our youngsters. On another count, this may be a matter of worry, since many, many, many, many youngsters may be opting for certain career-lines out of compulsions of employment even though they may not actually appreciate certain tasks and jobs.
Again, for many, this realism may be inevitable, but for others, this may mean that countless youngsters may drag themselves along in life just because they got jobs. There also is another trend that supports all these findings. Countless engineering graduates are seeking jobs in marketing or management, thus turning away from the four years of engineering education to acquire which they slogged in colleges. This number is stunningly high and leaves a question in its wake about the very purpose behind wasting so much labour in engineering education when the choice of jobs is going to be in some other field! Educationists are grappling with the challenge from an altogether different angle.
They are seeking to reinvent engineering curriculum so as to make it good enough to hike youngsters’ employability. This may help to an extent, but may not answer the question about the sudden shift in the trend. How is it that engineering graduates suddenly started realising that there were no jobs for them, or no good jobs for them. And why is it that the industry, too, started paying less all of a sudden? Or, was it that the larger society never noticed the dangers of low returns for engineering graduates upon over-supply of youngsters in that faculty? The reasons can be many, but factually, we must admit that we have caused a massive mess in education in the past few years. And we do not seem to realise how we have harmed the future of our young generation! A disturbing thought, this!