This is the age of the 4th Industrial revolution. This means industrial processes are upgraded to work at a much faster pace. Tasks are being automated and much of the data is digitized. The world is going through a tremendous change that will completely change the way things work in industries within a few years.
Since industries need to keep up with the pace of technology, they are also looking to recruit well–trained individuals and people who are capable of working on the latest Industry 4.0 technologies. But a huge skill gap is visible among engineering graduates.
The current Industrial revolution which focuses on the automation and digitization of tasks is known as Industry 4.0.
All stages of an industrial process including design, production and maintenance can be automated; in fact, they can also be performed remotely with the help of Industry 4 technologies! Processes are much faster and even more efficient.
What are Industries saying?
In such fast-paced industries, it is imperative that the employees must also be skilled in such technologies.
However, according to a survey conducted by Wheebox, only 48.7% of the total youth in India is employable and 75% of all the companies who participated in the survey reported a skill gap. These figures show that 1 out 2 Indian youths are not employable.
Accenture, the global technology services company estimated that if we do not upskill the youth so as to catch up with the current technological progress, India could forgo up to 2 to 3 percentage points, or $1.97 trillion in potential cumulative GDP growth over the next 10 years.
In India, only 5% of the workforce has employability skills and this figure is 50-60% in other countries. 66% of the Indian businesses are looking for a very different set of skills among candidates now than they did 3 years ago.
Indian businesses are rapidly evolving in technology, whereas the current education system does not satisfy the required skill criteria for implementing Industry 4.0. The skill gap is pretty evident.
Industries prefer candidates who have undergone additional training in some manner, apart from their 4-year engineering degree. If recruiters themselves do not prefer to hire someone who has an engineering degree, that shows the need to modify the current educational curriculum.
What are the students saying?
The current engineering curriculum contains several modules and includes practical coursework aimed at training students. However, students are faced with a completely different environment when they step out into the industry. In most of the cases, industries do not want to spend time training freshers.
Instead, the freshers themselves are forced to learn the newest technologies from scratch in order to keep up with the pace of the industry. Most of these new technologies are not taught in detail in engineering institutions.
The current curriculum is also quite hectic and intensive, and students do not find the time to learn new technologies during their academic life. This also demotivates students from going for an internship during their academic life as it would overburden them.
How will the skill gap affect the industries?
Industries need engineers who can automate industrial equipment and enable them to work with technologies like IoT, Augmented Reality, and additive manufacturing among other high-end automation technologies.
As stated during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting held in 2020 – within a period of 10 years, 50% of jobs will include automation and 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills.
With fewer employable and skilled employees, Industry 4 will become difficult to implement. Even if there are engineers now who work on these technologies, young engineers need to be trained so that they can work and further improve them in the future.
Companies like Siemens, General Electric, Nvidia and many more have incorporated Industry 4.0 into their products.
Industry 4.0 can help automate repetitive tasks like fault detection, and maintenance checks and digitize all data corresponding to that. Technicians can access industrial equipment from any part of the world and perform tasks remotely. Industry 4 also aids in interactive visual training, even if the actual equipment is not available.
The relevant digital skills in the global job market are Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science and Wireless Technologies which are huge contributors to the 4th Industrial Revolution. To make this possible, skilled engineers are a necessity. The skill gap has to be removed.
Removing the Skill Gap? Suggestions.
- Identify the latest, relevant skills and include them in the college curriculum to reduce the skill gap.
- Include more hands-on experience in the curriculum, giving more importance to practical lessons rather than theory-based lectures. Internships may be made mandatory and part of the curriculum.
- Introduce a periodic monitoring system to identify outdated theory lessons in the curriculum. Eliminate unnecessary topics.
- Take feedback from students, teachers and employers to understand what is missing.
- Encourage students to join and actively participate in organizations that are relevant to their field of expertise. (For example, IEEE, ISA)