In charts: How engineering lost its charm in India-Inspire To Hire

India was once home to an estimated one in four students globally graduating with a science or engineering degree. But Indians’ well-known love affair with engineering courses seems to be on the wane. Ahead of Engineer’s Day this Friday, Mint looks at the falling enrolments, weak job placements, and disappointing employability rate of India’s engineering graduates. To add to it, high financial costs and the rigor of a four-year course could also be deterring many from pursuing this path. With the growing challenges of new and disruptive technology, the stream needs to reinvent itself to keep students relevant in the job market.

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Changing demand

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The engineering boom seen during the late 2000s and early 2010s is on a decline. In the last seven years, the number of engineering institutions has come down by 9%. In 2014-15, over 17% of undergraduate students were studying engineering; by 2020-21, the share had dropped to 12%. Meanwhile, the share of women enrolling in B.E./B.Tech. courses in 2020-21 was 28.6%, roughly unchanged since 2012-13, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education.

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Challenging path

From coaching for entrance exams to getting placed, the process to become an engineer in India is daunting and ruthless. Fewer students are passing their course (66% of the undergraduate students enrolled in 2018-19 passed in 2022-23, down from 85% the previous year). The number of students getting placed has been stable, implying no growth in the influx of engineering graduates into the job market.

Present and the future

Computer engineering is the most popular stream, followed by traditional ones such as mechanical, electronics and civil. However, with growing business complexities and rapidly changing technology, focus is veering towards a different future. A survey found growing proclivity towards artificial intelligence and robotics in the job market.

Labour realities

When it comes to taking jobs, information technology and core engineering roles are the most sought fields, showed IIT-Delhi’s placement records for 2021-22. However, despite a huge talent pool, more than 40% of Indian engineers remain unemployable, according to an annual survey. Poor employability of engineering graduates is also taking them closer to non-core jobs.

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