Article

Synchronized Collaboration

Synchronized Collaboration

Preamble

Until the 1980s and 1990s, Indian engineering / management education was dominated by the IITs, IIMs, Government institutions and a handful of non-government participants like BITS and a few others. Quality of engineers passing out was controlled and Indian engineers were very much sought after. This also contributed to the much debated “Brain Drain”.

As the population of the country exploded, the rapid proliferation in the number of engineering education institutions in the country followed. This created immense opportunity for aspiring children to realize their goal of becoming engineers and enhance the household income potential.

While this situation enables access to education, hitherto restricted, this has also contributed to some element of the problem as well.

  • There are very nice aspects of the Indian Engineering & Management Institutions that need mention
  • There are over 3300+ engineering institutions and 3900+ Management Schools in India
  • India is the largest English speaking population and is the 2nd workforce comprising most scientists and engineers
  • India is expected to have the largest English speaking work force in 5-6 years ahead
  • IT continues to be a large recruiter in campus but old economy industries are making a comeback as well

Academic institutions have been established to cater to the current and emerging needs of Industry and there is an onus on the Education Sector to align its curriculum to address the pain points of the Industry.

Business centricity and Industry relevance in Engineering or Management education at least from an IT sector point of view are existent in some pockets, and it’s a situation where India churns out a number of engineers and management graduates every year whose employability in good part is becoming increasingly difficult.

Current Challenges

While there will be arguments for and against the point of view expressed in this article, one should holistically try and examine the causes of this problem and the real impact of this problem on industry. Some of the causative factors thereof could include:

  • Unplanned growth in Institutions
  • Poor industry relevance in course content impairing placement of students
  • Need for industry relevance in faculty
  • Lack of incentives for Industry to effectively collaborate with Academia
  • Poor program content
  • Inadequate or irrelevant involvement of Industry with only paper MoUs
  • Half-hearted Innovatio programs
  • Train the Trainer approach where in many cases the trainer vanishes into the corporate world
  • Poor communication skills of students
  • Theory-centric knowledge that necessitates significant training effort/ costs for businesses
  • Lack of multi-lingual skills

Quantified Impact

Let us take the example of the IT Industry which thus far has been a huge recruiter from various campuses.

In the IT sector, where demand is high and needs for cost control is also very pronounced, there is considerable effort to be expended towards training thousands of engineers recruited from campuses.

As a rough estimate, the effort for training 100 B.E – Computer Science / IT Graduates for a minimum period of 6 months will translate to:

  • A direct cost of at least $300,000
  • Revenue Opportunity loss of at least $ 1.9 MN if deployed on projects from 3rd month of recruitment, instead of spending a 6 month incubation span instead of 6 months incubation time
  • One can well imagine the overall quantum of this impact, given that IT sector hires in several thousands / lakhs.

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How can we achieve synchronized collaboration?

Any new initiative will require support from foundation pillars for the initiative. Key pillars for getting a collaboration initiative forward would necessarily include the following with some suggested propensity for their contributions:

  • The Institution / University – Skills incubation and innovation collaboration
  • The Corporate World / Industry and its captains to invest in active collaboration
  • The Government shall invest by way of incentives to lift the state of play to a higher level
  • Technology Platform Company – OEM / Software Platform Vendor making the platform available

In Summary

The Indian Engineering/ Management Education System, though good, requires a reorientation in its relevance to industry and a synchronized collaboration between Industry and Academia will help realize a symbiotic ecosystem.

About the Author

Ananth Subramanian is the CEO & Managing Director, Hitachi Solutions India