Monday, October 17, 2011

Education and Job - Serious Disconnect

picture source
My nephew did telecommunication engineering from FAST. While hunting for the job he informed me that a job in telecom market is out of question; neither any job is available nor anybody would hire a FAST graduate even if it available; so he should better be looking his future in some software house. Being among the senior most community of telecom engineers in Pakistan (with single digit PEC registration number), it felt very wierd. FAST has enjoyed the reputation to produce excellent computer and software engineers, but so pathatic state of telecom engineers?
Okay, I got him the entry pass into one of the reputable telecom company using or misusing my contacts; but clearly told him that it is his own race where he has to prove that my reference was worth it. After couple of months, he told me a totally different story:
"There are many posts vacant, but they are not finding a suitable person to enroll. The applicants only have the degree but no 'aptitude' or 'commitment' to work. The company has asked me to find at least two guys like myself."
Sounds like a real problem, isn't a Telecom Engineer not qualified enough to be given even entry level jobs in the field?
Once I generalized this observation, I was, well really, horrified.
In all electronic and mobile maintenance workshops, how many are electrical diploma holders?
How many site supervisers for road and bridge construction are qualified associate diploma in civil Engineering?
Haw many accountant and 'Munshees' in medium scale business and industry are C/D, I or B.comm?
How many BA in physical education, Punjabi literature are doing the job they had been studying?
Do any of the licensed driver on road have ever attended a driving school, even for one week?
There are two problems:

  1. A big disconnect between education we are imparting and the job and profession in the offering.
  2. The education in a particular profession is not good enough to do even entry level job in the same very field.

Well we all know it more or less; someone or somebody has to do this or that or push a button to put the things right and that somebody is not me.
But there is one more aspect that compelled me to write all this:
If a person educated, qualified and trained for a job is not doing that very job and busy in something he is not educated, qualified or trained; he is causing a double loss: one to the job he is doing, and second to the job he was trained but not doing.
Part of the fault may be attributed to 'aptitude', as brilliant students are to become a doctor or engineer due to social pressure, irrespective of their aptitude. But major reason and contributory factor in my opinion is that the we have compromised on lower (or may be lowest) skill level during our education and training. An MA English is unable to write an application for job, as our acceptable standard was to reproduce 'parrot' (رٹے رٹاے) paragraphs. Instead of raising the education quality to raise the level of students we are continuously lowering our acceptance levels. We have bonded ourselves in curricula of textbooks where even a word out of text book is 'out of course' and should neither be taught nor tested.


  • Getting happy that our kids are getting more than 90% [as a parent] we should be more realistic to ask schools that how 50% of the children in same class be exceptionally higher than average.
  • We should pay more to teachers, specially elementary schools teachers (I saw in math book of my 4th grade daughter the concept of cellular automata; actually the word automata was used there, but I can bet anything on it that not a single teacher in the entire school would have any idea what this crap is).
  • As a parent, we must listen and try to assess real aptitude of kids.
  • Schools must hire professionals to conduct regular aptitude tests so that kids be guided towards the fields of their interests.
  • Lastly people like me, who cry a lot about faults in system, must spend time in schools. Try to offer small lectures sharing personal experiences and asking them to THINK.

1 comment:

  1. Another part of the solution would be to let the engineers get their hands dirty with the stuff they will encounter on the job. This might require huge amounts of investment. I have visited the mobile networks lab at UET Lahore, and it is impressive. Now I dont know how much exposure the students actually get on that Lab. I have heard that its not much.

    Similarly, a friend with M.Phil in Physics from QAU claims that certain hardware in labs is out of bounds for the students, unless by express permission of the Professor who sourced it, and the permission was never easy to obtain.

    In my Undergrad program in Software Engineering, heavily programming oriented courses were 2+1 or 3+1 credits, with 1 credit being lab. So there was very little incentive to actually go and write code for that 1 credit.

    Engineering education needs to be more practical, and students should aim first at becoming workers and not "afsar"s.

    On a related note: