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Sunday, April 7, 2013

What should Tier 2/3 Engineering graduates do to find jobs in IT firms?

Recently i read a report of research and consulting firm on the status of Engineering jobs.Every year, about 3.5 lakhs Engineering and technology graduates pass out. Four states - AP, Karnataka, TN and Maharashtra - contribute 70% of these graduates. Computer science and IT accounts for 32%, Electronics stream accounts for 22% and Mechanical stream for 18%.

The report also highlighted the concerns of the poor quality of these graduates, which is considered to be abysmally low in Tier 2/3 institutes. The report states that about 4.5% of the engineers passing from Tier 1 engineering colleges such as IIT's are fit to work in IT firm. But the competition in these Tier 1 institutes to recruit graduates is so high that companies recruit them in the seventh semester, making it difficult for colleges to keep these students motivated in eighth semester. In some Tier 1 institutes, it is reported that hiring process commences in 5/6th semesters !!!! This is counting the chickens before the eggs are hatched.

But what do Tier2/3 engineering graduates lack? According to the report, these graduates lack advanced IT skills such as cloud computing. But, given the rapid advances in technology, one can understand and appreciate the lack of latest technical skills.

But the absence of three soft skills is surprising in these graduates ( actually it is not surprising, because even the Nasscom report of 2005 had highlighted this), because they can be easily built around (not inside) the curriculum. Three crucial skills that these students lack are Interfacing skills ( ability to interface with customers and colleagues), Lack of knowledge of any domain ( such as telecom, finance or others) and above all, the understanding of business context that is required to function in an organisation. Please also see the relevant blog for MBA students in Tier 2/3 Institutes.

What can students in Tier 2 and Tier 3 Institutes do to get a job in IT firms?

1> Building interfacing skills : These are interpersonal skills. These skills can be build by working in team projects - academic as well as non-academic projects. Many colleges encourage lot of groups to conduct non-academic activities that require students to work together. Morever, students can always learn inter-personal skill and practice it under the guidance of mentor. Understanding of domains, social  issues, country governance methods also helps in promoting inter personal skills, because knowledge of 'how world works' helps one relate with others.

2. Domain Knowledge building : Every domain - be it software, telecom or Retail - is unique. One cannot understand all domains in one's lifetime. What one needs therefore is to learn a method of understanding domains, the meta-domain skill ( the skill of understanding and analysing any domain) . I utilise value-chain analysis as a better meta-domain method of teaching these domain knowledge building to students.

3. Understanding of business context: Working in an organisation requires understanding how the 'organisational animal' functions. Like working with animals demands understanding of the 'behaviour of animals', so too one needs to understand the 'organisational behaviour' ( not the behaviour of individuals in an organisation) to work in organisations. It requires understanding of organisational functions; structures of responsibility in an organisation; Patterns of power between senior, middle and bottom layers; Use of perception and the 'market driven' behaviour of organisations.This is like doing Mini-MBA. Any good MBA coach can help you understand how an 'organisation functions' in 3 months.

As you would observe, these three skills are required for any graduate ( not just IT) who wants to work in a company job. In other words, these are generic skills required by any graduate who wants to enter the work-life. 

If you do this, even partially, you have edge over other 'Tier 1' college students because Tier 1 college students are generally considered as very difficult students because they are unable to control their aspirations.

Are you ready to acquire these three skills? As they say, if the student is ready, the teacher finds him.