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Career Scope In India

Future scope of engineering career

What is the scope of building a career in the Indian Engineering Service?

The IES remain one of the most sought-after careers for the engineering graduates in India. In 2010, a total of 157,649 candidates applied for 434 vacancies (includes all branches and cadres)! The exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in order to fulfil the requirements of various central government departments like Railways, Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Water Commission, Power Sector, Ordnance, Defence Sector , Border Roads and so on.

Recruited as Grade 1 Officers of the Government of India, they play an instrumental role in development and planning of their respective departmental activities like new project conceptualizing, tender estimation, passing of new projects, framing of policies, initiating foreign technology ventures etc. Hence, IES is easily one of the toughest exams to crack in India. You must have completed your B.Tech/ BE to qualify, and the exam shares its core disciplines with GATE. If a government job with both security as well as challenges is what you seek, then IES is one exam that you mustn’t give a miss.

Is Information Technology the most lucrative field?

“With the world going hi-tech, the increasing demand for IT professionals is justifiable, and being one of the well-paid sectors, it’s true that there is a trend of engineering students choosing the IT stream,” observes Saumen Bhattacharjee, Head Talent Acquisition at GE India Technology Center in Bangalore. “However, engineering students are now focusing on emerging fields like Aerospace, Biomedical, Medical Electronics, Structural Engineering, Telecommunications, also lucrative options , to name a few,” he elaborates.

What about other fields of engineering?

Shekhar Sanyal – Country Head – The IET India (UK-based engineering association with 53 student chapters in India), says that core engineering subjects will be in high demand as always but the application will constantly evolve. “IT will become embedded in all core functions and will enable the core functions to become much more effective,” he shares. For instance, GE India Technology Center hires engineers from Aerospace, Mechanical, Electronics, Electrical and Computer Science streams. Students have also started looking back at what they call core engineering jobs, that is to say “work in shop floor”, feels Micheal Baymiller, Director – HR at International Paper, a global leader in packaging and paper. IP’s India plant hires for a wide range of positions, from Mechanical Maintenance, Civil and Electrical, to Process In- charge, Paper machine and Chemical. “It comes with its own set of challenges as students’ tenacity levels in terms of sticking to a job has drastically come down,”observes Micheal.

Many students pose a question: how much will I earn in my first job?

According to assessment and talent evaluation company, Aspiring Minds, salary structures vary largely across sectors. Engineering students gainfully employed in the IT services sector earn somewhere between Rs. 2.5 to 4.5 lakh per annum in their first job. In the IT product sector requiring core technology skills, salaries range from 6 to 12 lakh per year. Today, a variety of roles open for entry-level engineers in technical support and services, infrastructure management, data entry etc where salaries range from 1 lakh to 2.5 lakh per annum. “It depends on the student’s competence as to how much will he or she be able to secure in terms of monetary compensation initially,” shares Himanshu Aggarwal, CEO, Aspiring Minds.

I heard that life at a plant is tough. Are there any benefits?

While life at a plant or factory site may not be as exciting as when you live in a city or at home, according to Micheal Baymiller, Director – HR at International Paper India, a global leader in packaging and paper, there are certain benefits of working at a plant. Modern plants, these days are equipped with latest state-of -the-art equipment that make work all the more exciting says, Sanjay Kumar who worked as General Manager at the Tata Steel Plant in Jamshedpur . Working in a factory would give you  paid vacations, housing at the mills, regular job rotations, and an opportunity to understand the overall operations, manufacturing and product understanding. Ramesh Shankar, Executive VP and Cluster HR Head, South Asia, Siemens, which has over 21 manufacturing plants in India stresses that those who enter the manufacturing domain must be passionate about engineering and technology, and have an insatiable thirst to develop world class manufacturing processes and capabilities. Though, the initial years might be taxing in terms of the number of hours one puts in,  the rapid promotions that it might offer in the long run makes it worthwhile.

“Our Graduate Trainee (GT) Programme at a global level provides candidates the platform to learn about our business, Manufacturing Excellence and Product Delivery while they participate and make invaluable contributions to the company,” rounds up Baymiller.

What is the demand in the job market, today?

Recruitment portal Shine.com gives us a snapshot of the current market scenario. Sales Engineers top the list in terms of demand. Design/CAD Engineers also very much in demand, coming at a very close second. This is followed by Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers and then Maintenance Engineers. Others in decreasing order are Technical Support Engineer, Service Engineers, Testing Engineers, Site Engineers, Project Engineers, Production Engineers, Network Engineers and Quality Engineers. Two very unique profiles include Aerospace Stress Engineer in area of Occupational Health/Safety and Analog Design Engineer – in Research & Development and Product Design. Typically, an Aerospace Stress Engineer is responsible for working within the aerospace team, providing high quality technical input to aerospace projects, spanning both aero structures and aero engines. More over Robotics  and lean manufacturing specialists are also in demand.

What kind of engineering diploma or certificate stand out?

There are many diplomas/certificate programmes offered by various institutes – both international and national. Your choice will depend on your areas of interest. Shantanu Paul, MD and CEO of Talentsprint, a skill and talent development company gives us a perspective. Various institutes in India such as Maples, C-DAC etc, offer a course for one or two years in a particular technology area. It is a good idea to choose a diploma programme that is job-oriented and focuses on areas that are in demand in the market. A lot of big companies offer certification on their technology. “Microsoft has a series of certification on its technologies for development, databases and technical support. Similarly Oracle offers an Oracle Certified Java Professional for those studying Java. There are many certifications like SAP, Oracle Financials etc. Cisco offers a popular certification in networking. These certifications require you to either study on your own or take a course somewhere that can help you pass the test. However, one thing to be careful about is that these certifications may require you to take more than one exam. “When you add the cost of the course and the certifications are added up, the whole thing may turn out to be quite expensive,” Shatanu informs us.

With a B.Tech, are there any opportunities for a student to become a scientist?

After B.Tech in Applied Sciences,it is possible to become a scientist, as a 4-year degree can be sufficient for a scientist’s job. However, as a scientist’s role is to perform research in a specialised domain, it is necessary to have enhanced knowledge of the subject. Hence, a Master’s or a Doctoral degree would improve prospects to become a scientist, advises Saumen Bhattacharjee, Head Talent Acquisition, GE India Technology Center in Bangalore, which is a Centre of Excellence in areas of Software, Embedded Systems Design and Electromechanical Design. “Our scientists and engineers are engaged in redefining what is possible in energy, transportation, aviation, healthcare, consumer and industrial businesses,” he says.

What are the qualities critical to be a scientist?

The National Employability Report for Engineering Graduates 2012 by Aspiring Minds, a skill development and assessment company, indicates that only a miniscule fraction would have the capability to go further to become scientists. While aspiration-wise the numbers would even be lower, the gap lies at the institutional level as well. “Institutions today do not breed the habit of research and analysis in students and do not work towards enhancing the overall disposition towards science and research-related careers,” says Himanshu Aggarwal, CEO of Aspiring Minds. Those with a keen interest in making a career as a scientist need expertise in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, says Rajeev Shorey, Founder President, NIIT University. For good students opportunities exist in NASA, ISRO and other Research Labs.

 What are the upcoming jobs to prepare for in the next 10 years?

Shekhar Sanyal, Country Head of The IET India advises students to look at careers in smart engineering: Smart Power Systems, Smart Built Environment, Medical Engineering, Smart Transport systems and Smart Communications. He also points out that in the next 10 years, a whole generation of engineers will retire from public sector power companies and while engineering colleges do not specifically offer a power specialisation, students can look towards combining power and IT skills to meet the upcoming challenges in the power sector. Some top power sector companies include NTPC, NHPC, REC and NEEPCO. Hardware and manufacturing will also grow and production engineering will be a valued area. Sanyal also predicts that over the next five years India will start manufacturing semiconductors as opposed to merely designing them, and this field will need trained professionals. In fact, the recent union budget supported IC chip makers by waiving the custom duty for importing semiconductor equipment and machinery for chips fabs. Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in his speech, “I propose to provide appropriate incentives to semiconductor wafer fab manufacturing facilities, including zero customs duty for plant and machinery.”

What is this new buzz about data analytics?

According to Rajita Singh, Head – HR, Broadridge Financial Solutions, data analytics is also an up and coming area. “It deals not only with collecting, gathering, analysing the data but also making sense of the data and making the recommendations,” she explains. With the vast amount of data that is available now for us, computer programming has become essential and this has meant engineers are much in demand for data analytics. Engineers have a strong base of Math, Statistics, Data Representation and these elements integrated with programming gives them an advantage over pure statisticians. Having said that, successful data analysts are those who can understand what the data represents and make meaning of the analysis. “Engineering helps but as with anything the strongest need for successful Data analytics is commonsense,” she adds! (Students, don’t miss our extensive career review on Data Analytics in this issue).

I’m told an engineering degree is not enough, we need soft skills, too. Why is this?

In 2011, the World Bank did an extensive survey to find out what skills employers seek in fresh engineering graduates. The survey found that employers perceive soft skills to be very important, and in particular communication seemed to be one of the most demanded skills by the employers. Thus it  is not surprising that during campus placements, in many cases, English language proficiency is tested first, followed by group discussions, and then technical competency. As a result many students, especially from rural regions, lose out to a smooth communicator despite possessing sound technical knowledge. Why are English language skills so important so many years after independence from the Brits?   ”We are a Global In-House Centre (GICs),” explains Vipul Singh, VP & Head of HR at ADP Private Limited. “So we have strong interactions with the business units in the US,” he explains.

Similarly, Paypal India’s GIC has 2,300 technologists, one of PayPal’s largest technology sites in the world. “We must be able to share our ideas and thought processes with people through multiple formats,” advises Anupam Pahuja, CEO of PayPal India. Both stress the need for soft skills as follows. Vipul qualifies basic English speaking as a soft skill. “It doesn’t come naturally to many whose mother tongue isn’t English. This is level 1. Level 2 is ability to comprehend what is expected by listening and Level 3 is to present the point of view, which is good, bad and ugly, to the business,” he shares.

Can I get a job after my degree?

While institutes try to attract recruiters to your campus, the ultimate responsibility for ensuring you get a job is yours, advises Shantanu Paul, MD and CEO of Talentsprint. “While you are in college you should start reading up about companies, and talk to friends and family who may be able to help you understand what companies look for in new hires,” says Shantanu. It is especially important for those who don’t get into the best colleagues to differentiate yourself from your peers, so your résumé stands out in on and off campus interviews. Shantanu suggests some ways – writing a blog, taking on a project, working as an intern at a company or taking courses where you can improve your technology skills and possibly get a certification that is recognised by the industry.

How to go about searching for a job?

During your off-campus search, try to identify these companies and send your résumé to them. Target small and medium-sized companies that may not come on campus but are still looking to hire freshers. Most of these positions will be advertised online in various job sites or on their websites or newspapers. “During your engineering programme, improve your skills by joining a technology and soft skills course,” advises Shantanu. When looking for a technology programme, make sure it provides you with practical hands-on experience on the computer. Technology where they only teach you theory and don’t provide any computer time is useless. Generally taking a certification will also help. Above all be positive. If you are hard working, an opportunity must always come now or later.

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