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Jobless techies chart new path

Bhubaneswar, March 25: They aspired to become engineers, but landed up as newspaper vendors, tutors and constables. Some have even found themselves behind bars.

Lack of jobs has crushed the ambitions of many engineering graduates, while those who could not resist the lure of a flashy lifestyle took to crime.

Their plight is a sad commentary on our education system that continues to spawn engineering colleges churning out graduates with few takers in the job market.

Parsuram Sethi, 25, cycles through the city each morning throwing newspapers into the houses of his clients. An engineering graduate, he decided to pocket his pride and become a newspaper hawker after several unsuccessful attempts at finding a decent job. His is not the only case.

Gautam Sahoo, who has a BTech degree, has been forced to take up the job of a constable with Odisha police. Another engineering graduate, Rajesh Behera, who graduated from a well-known private engineering college in the city, earns a living by giving tuition to class X students.

Sethi sat for two rounds of campus interviews but could not get through. “The college authorities then asked for Rs 2 lakh for assured placements. Those, who paid up, got the jobs. I could not,” he said.

Sethi had joined his engineering college after clearing the Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE) where he found too many officials and agents advising him.

“They talked big about their respective institutes and guaranteed jobs. Some even called me up. I believed them,” said the young man whose father, a small-time government employee, paid his life’s savings of Rs 4 lakh for his engineering course.

Like Sethi, Rajesh and Gautam, too, were convinced of assured jobs in companies such as TCS and Wipro. In their cases, too, the families’ savings went into paying for their course. “Girls, who are not able to get jobs, are married off, but it becomes all the more difficult for guys. The elders keep taunting you all the while. I feel suicidal at times,” said Gautam.

In February, students of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology (IGIT), Sarang, the premier government college in Dhenkanal, held demonstrations and boycotted classes demanding recruitment. The students complained that the number of campus hirings had been abysmal in the past two years.

“There has been almost no hiring this year. It’s not even 10 per cent,” said Vinit, a student.

Private colleges cite the example of government colleges. “If they are not able to provide placements, where will we get recruiters from?” asks Nursingha Beura, the placement co-ordinator in one of the colleges.

The job crunch, coupled with the lure of a flashy lifestyle, is also propelling young engineering and management graduates to crime. Bhubaneswar residentsare yet to forget how four management students killed a septuagenarian couple at Acharya Vihar in September 2012.

Rourkela residents were terrified when last December, two students, one studying engineering and the other commerce, killed their teacher after robbing him. Engineering students have also been found involved in crimes such as extortion, dacoity and snatching.

Sociologists and educators blame it on the mushrooming of institutions, especially private engineering and management colleges, without proper infrastructure and quality faculty. “I have been teaching in several engineering colleges and have observed that many are run in a non-professional manner. Besides, several engineering colleges are run by profit-seekers with dubious pasts. Such institutions churn our poor graduates without any motivation. No wonder they fail to find recruiters,” said a teacher.

Sociologist D. Jena said growing consumerism was one of the main reasons for the situation. “Though unable to find jobs, the students still crave for a flashy lifestyle. This makes them look for easy options such as crime without understanding its consequences,” he said.

The pass percentage in engineering colleges ranges from 55 to 68 per cent. In 2012, 15,789 of the total 19,000 students passed while in 2011, 20,333 of 25,000-odd students were successful.

The state has 98 engineering colleges, of which eight are government-run. Of the 45,467 seats in these colleges, just about 20,000 to 25,000 seats have been getting filled up every year for the past seven years. In 2013, around 23,000 seats were filled up.

The unemployment problem is worrying, especially when the state government has gone for increase in the number of seats in many government-run engineering colleges. A government official said a central placement cell constituted for students had been operational since November last year. It was set up following the long-standing demand of students to improve their job prospects. However, though a director (training and placement) is in charge of the cell, no significant placement activities have yet been organised.

A senior engineering professor, Prashant Patra, said the mushroom growth of engineering colleges was alarming and primarily responsible for low employability of engineers.

“Many engineering graduates lack the necessary skills to enter into the corporate world. Societal pressure, inadequate infrastructure, poor quality of teachers and outdated syllabus are major reasons for this. The recession has worsened the scenario,” he said.

Career counsellor Suresh Patnaik said students must be very careful before choosing their career and institutions. “They must not be lured by paid agents, who assure them of 100 per cent placements. Choose the career you are passionate about and do your best to achieve knowledge and improve your communication and technological know-how, the most important factors to get a job,” he said.