Engineering colleges to convert vacant seats for vocational learning

Close to 34% of sanctioned seats in engineering institutes across the nation have remained vacant in 2021-22. In a Rajya Sabha query, the minister of state for education informed that of the 12,53,337 sanctioned seats in engineering colleges, 4,21,203 or 34% of seats have remained vacant in 2021-22. Educators consider these vacant seats as an opportunity for engineering colleges to provide multidisciplinary education to make students industry-ready.

Gauging the problems

India has been struggling with the hype for engineering which has led to a mismatch in the demand and supply ratio of professionals. Realising the business opportunity, several private players have started Engineering colleges. However, the lack of infrastructure and less than adequate educational opportunities at these institutes dissuades many students from opting for engineering.
Rangan Banerjee, director, IIT Delhi, says that there is a need to carry out a nationwide assessment to gauge the actual demand of engineers that the industry requires today. “A feedback and assessment mechanism needs to be put into place so that the nation’s future requirements for engineers can be gauged and educational opportunities can be provided accordingly,” he says.

Meet industry demands

MP Poonia, vice-chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), considers these vacant seats an opportunity for engineering institutes to start offering multidisciplinary education in line with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. “Since the industry now demands multiskilled professionals with more than just knowledge in their core streams, students are hesitant to opt for pure engineering courses, leading to the vacant seats,” he says.
Rather than consider this as a setback, stakeholders should take this as an opportunity to widen the horizons of students and make them more industry ready. “Today, students are looking for opportunities to upskill. Post gauging the trends across streams where majority seats are vacant, institutes can start offering various vocational courses to students,” says Poonia. The seats lying vacant in pure streams can be converted to multidisciplinary courses that can create professionals as per industry requirements, he adds.
Close to 400 colleges have already approached AICTE with the request to start courses such as Economics, Cyber Security, and more, says Poonia. “The only requirement before permitting these colleges is that the existing timetable, in the form of lectures, practical classes and labs for the currently ongoing courses should not get disturbed.”