The engineering sector

June 26, 2022

Engineering and technology can help make a nation great and strong

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s an engineering student in one of the well ranked public sector universities in Pakistan, I have been analysing the state of the engineering institutes in terms of the skill levels of their graduates. Besides my personal observation, I have consulted several graduates and many senior students about why students lack the required skills?

Should we look at the acknowledged developments in the field of engineering in countries like Japan, China, Germany, the United Kingdom and the USA and compare those with the state of engineering in Pakistan? Why are many engineering graduates in Pakistan not experts in their fields?

The answer to this query is simple. It is due to poor counselling that most of the engineering graduates are incompetent. Many students fail to grasp the primary skills, others lack basic engineering sense due to numerous reasons.

According to the World Economic Forum report titled, Future of Jobs, the skills of solving complex engineering problems, critical analysis and logical thinking are required to survive in the 21st Century. In view of the endemic unemployment in the country, many competent engineers look for rewarding jobs abroad.

There are many Pakistani engineers in the Gulf states and European countries where they receive handsome salaries for the jobs they do. Those who do not travel abroad due to domestic reasons become part of a vicious cycle.

I will quote a real-life example here. In one of the lab subjects during one of the semesters we were taught three software programmes. The course is worth one credit hour only, meaning that the teacher taught us for three hours a week. The softwares used were: MATLAB, AutoCAD and MS Excel.

I had a feeling that it was not possible to cover even one of the software well in such a short span of time. Each software mentioned above requires a minimum of six to eight months to master it.

As per my experience, students are not given enough time to master the required skills. This is one of the reasons we have so many incompetent graduates. No wonder the number of jobless engineers is way too high.

Some students argue in favour of introducing several software programmes during a semester. They are of the view that this gives more options to students so that they can choose the softwares they want to focus on and master those on their own. The approach has been tried in some other countries and the results have not been enviable.

One of the main reasons for unemployment is the lack of skills needed in the contemporary world among job seekers.

Many departments in Pakistani universities lack proper counselling. Many of the existing counselling cells are also not fully functional. Many graduating students do not even know the names of firms that might hire them.

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) ought to make it compulsory for universities to have proper counselling cells in every department. It is equally important that these cells are kept functional.

The engineering universities should also devise a formula so that only four or five key softwares are taught during a four-year degree and make them compulsory.

Such a strategy will help in two ways: the instructors will have ample amount of time to teach effectively and students will have the opportunity to acquire the required skill levels.

Apart from the four or five compulsory softwares, the departments should offer courses in optional software subjects. Those interested in learning these might enroll in the courses.

The government must also work on creating more opportunities for graduates. It should create new departments that will hire engineers for important nation building projects.

There is rampant digital illiteracy in the country. This is hindering progress in several ways. More industries should also be set up by provincial governments. As of now there are some industrial clusters in the Punjab but provinces like Balochistan can offer little to engineers.

Development and prosperity cannot come without a focus on engineering and technology. It is only by investing in technology that the country’s GDP can grow at an adequate rate and poverty and unemployment decline.

Once there are abundant opportunities for rewarding work in the country more engineers and technologists will prefer to serve here than go abroad.

The writer is a final semester civil engineering student at UET, Taxila. He can be reached at dawoodkhan0666gmail.comTwitter:DawoodKhanHere

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