Even as the government is intent on developing skills of unemployed youth through schemes like Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), public sector undertakings (PSUs) are not showing any interest in providing internships to engineering graduates.
The Apprenticeship Act stipulates that any firm has to take 10 per cent of the strength of its employees as apprentices every year. An amendment made in the Apprenticeship Act in 2014 increased the percentage from 3 to 10. The Act applies to engineers and diploma holders. But the PSUs generally hire diploma holders and technicians through the HRD Ministry, Bureau of Practical Training (BOPT).
PSUs are now hiring engineering graduates on the basis of their scores in the Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineering (GATE) exam conducted jointly by Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and IITs and their personal interviews. The weightage for the GATE scores is higher.
Of the over 3 lakh students who apply for internships only 1.38 lakh got them in 2016-17. These internships are supposed to develop skills of the engineering graduates. It is estimated that out of the 16 lakh students only 3 lakh end up with jobs every year.
When this was brought to the notice of HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, he said he will have to find out what is happening. Even as the government is opening up new IITs, the future of those completing engineering courses from the sundry private engineering colleges is in the doldrums. A large number of them do not get campus placements. Sources in the HRD Ministry said those pursuing courses like ceramic engineering or geophysical engineering from IITs also do not get jobs.
HRD ministry sources said almost all private companies take interns because they get a qualified engineer or a diploma holder at a nominal sum of Rs 5000 and Rs 3700 respectively of which half the amount is paid by the government.
Engineering graduates and diploma holders have to apply online for internships through BOPT which is managed by the HRD Ministry. For the one year internship that they get in the company, they get a certificate from BOPT. This helps the engineering graduate seek jobs in other companies.
An official said in some sectors which are not very sophisticated in nature, the need for diploma holders could be more. “Where there is modernisation, the requirement for engineers may be more. Mining sector is one such area,” said the official.
The demand for civil engineers seems to be at an all-time low. Of the 1.38 lakh engineering graduates and diploma holders who were able to get internships in companies in 2016-17, the number of civil engineers and diploma holders was only 7,000. The demand for mechanical engineers and diploma holders was the maximum as 45,000 of them managed to get internships in 2016-17.