India’s engineers are better than China’s—but so much worse than America’s

Not playing around.
Not playing around.
Image: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui
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Indian engineers’ employability has remained under a cloud for years now.

This year is no different. Over eight in 10 Indian engineers are unemployable in the knowledge economy, a report by Aspiring Minds National Employability says.

A much higher proportion of Indian engineers—three times the Chinese ones—write code that do not even compile. This means a computer isn’t able to convert the code in human-readable language into machine language and execute it.

Indian students show better potential than their Chinese counterparts, even if by a small margin, in writing functionally correct code, but their performance falls flat in comparison to American coders. “The US triumphs with a much higher proportion of engineers, almost four times as India, who know how to code,” the report said.

The research sample includes 170,000 Indian engineering students and over 40,000 and 30,000 jobseekers in the US and China, respectively.

“For India to continue to be globally competitive and keep up its growth story, we need our young graduates to have new-age skills in AI (artificial intelligence), data, mobile and cloud. We find as low as 3% engineers have these skills,” said Varun Aggarwal, co-founder and CTO of Aspiring Minds.

The low employability of Indian engineers partly stems from the fact that the discipline is extremely theoretical and hardly practical in the way it is taught in the country. A mere 7% of the candidate pool did multiple internships.

“Engineers learn by doing and not reading. We find that a low proportion of engineers take up projects beyond curriculum and do internships. Further, there is lack of faculty talking about industry application of concepts in class or students getting exposure through industry talks,” said Aggarwal. “These need to be remedied by aligning incentives of all stakeholders, building capacity and game-ification. For instance, one may link up provision of internships with CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives and government companies may be mandated to take up interns on a large scale.”