A lot has been said about the quality of fresh engineers coming out of our universities in India with optimists saying about 60% of them are unemployable. Others with a more pessimistic view opine that more than 80% of fresh engineers do not make the cut when it comes to good grasp of fundamentals, basic communication, writing skills, computer literacy & other life skills needed in the profession.

Having interviewed hundreds of fresh engineers over many years, I am of the opinion that blame is shared equally between the colleges that churn out these engineers without designing the right curriculum to make them life-ready as well as the students for not taking it upon themselves to learn the necessary professional skills needed for the industry. It takes about 4 years for an engineering degree in India which is quite a long period for both students and colleges to dwell and reflect upon what they are supposed to be doing and how to constantly improve.

Many of the colleges are content with just completing the contents prescribed by the authorities and to go through the same rigmarole year after year without any improvement. Most of the students that I have interviewed seem to have no clue on basics of engineering nor the importance of having a good grasp of fundamentals especially pertaining to the field of engineering that they pursue. In tests after tests conducted for fresh engineers containing 80% fundamentals & 20% on applications of knowledge, the average score range we see is 12 to 15 on a scale of 30 which is quite disturbing.

In my opinion, the colleges can do better by stressing the need for fundamentals as well as getting industry subject matter experts to spend significant quality time. I would recommend this not just with final year students but also with all the students right from 1st semester onwards, guiding the students on industry expectations, teaching them the avenues open to explore and motivating them to do more. In this age of instant gratification, curiosity and yearning for deeper understanding of subjects seems to be the casualties as most freshers would come out blank when questioned on their understanding of subjects beyond the headlines or big picture. As the saying goes, the devil is in the detail, and that is what we must strive for. 


About Madhukar B A

A graduate Civil Engineer from Bangalore University with about 30 years of experience working (12 years in Singapore & 18+ years in India) on all types of construction projects in India and abroad. My experience includes high-rise buildings, tunnels & underground Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations, expressways, mega malls, office & commercial spaces and world class airports. I am privileged to have had professional interactions with hundreds of stalwarts of industry during my career which has given me unique insights from a vantage point.

I am an invited conference speaker & consultant on subjects of varied interests like project management, ehs management, quality audits, training, student mentoring, technology management & software development for construction industry besides being a published author of articles. I am an evangelist for good construction practices and a strong proponent of holistic approach to project management school of thought.