news Friday, July 17, 2015 - 05:30
by K Ramachandran Going by the sheer number of engineering colleges and seats available, Tamil Nadu is the biggest engineering education provider in India. And those watching the engineering admissions scene in Tamil Nadu through the single window counselling system will realize how skewed the thinking among students is. Just because the first set of toppers in the State chose to pursue Electronics and Communications Engineering or Mechanical Engineering for their B.E/B.Tech programme, thousands of students down the ranking order are choosing to follow this same path. Mindlessly so. Despite knowing that very few core electronic or communications companies visit campuses for recruitment and they will all end up in I.T service companies. Any argument that ECE is a larger domain, or that it gives the students more career opportunities or has a wider scope in terms of careers or jobs, can hardly hold water. Experience in the past decade proves this wrong.  But before venturing into this part, here are some discernible trends. It took just eight days to separate the good institutions from the rest. By the time counselling ended on Day 8, no seats were left in OC and BC categories in colleges where the top recruiters especially from the information technology services industry visit regularly. Whatever be the economic weather, it’s a fact that the IT services industry remains the largest employer from campuses across India. Yes, the numbers tend to fluctuate. Fears remain whether the services sector will be able to sustain this bulk recruiting pattern. But present trends indicate that the IT service sector will continue to recruit thousands of fresh graduates. The numbers may fluctuate, but a whole range of IT enabling start ups in Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad continue will seek to grab fresh minds out of college to pursue their path to growth. Other sectors, such as manufacturing, financial services, hardware, infrastructure also do campus recruitment, but the number are just not comparable. Similarly, electronics hardware, infrastructure or communications companies rarely enter a large number of campuses for recruiting fresh graduates. This is not to take away credit from any of the sectors which contribute their mite to Indian economy. But still facts show. Now back to the main point. In the past 10 years, a vast and significant majority of ECE students who get campus placement only ended up in the IT services sector. A look at any college website’s placement statistics would show that their ECE students have been placed in a TCS, Cognizant, Accenture, Infosys, Wipro, IBM, HCL, Hexaware, L and T Info systems, Inautix and the like. Even multi national giants like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Oracle take students only for their tech or I.T services. Few students realize that digital is the biggest and transformative business driver in all sectors – banking, financial services, health care, pharma, retail, manufacturing, logistics, insurance, communications, power, infrastructure, energy…. the list goes on. Each of these sectors are slowly automating and virtualizing all their business related and production activities. The biggest opportunities are emerging in areas such data sciences, analytics, cloud computing, Internet of Things, sensor driven tools and implements. Yes, telecommunication, 3D manufacturing, Wifi, Wimax, software radio, agricultural innovations, energy, non-conventional energy, smart utilities, wearable technologies also promise to change the way we live, interact and do business. But all of them have a digital underpinning to their strategy and expansion plans. The best conclusion young students and parents will need to take from now on, is how they can plan their career for a future that’s getting increasingly digital. In other words, a student can still opt to take up a Civil or Electrical engineering. But he or she has to realize that a good knowledge base in digital or computing /I.T driven systems will certainly give them the edge.  
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