Why Top IITs in India Are Having Trouble Finding Jobs for Graduates

The recent revelation that 38% of graduates from India’s prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) remain unplaced has sent shockwaves through the academic community. For decades, IITs, along with the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), were considered the ultimate launchpads for high-paying jobs. However, this startling statistic is a stark reminder that even the most esteemed institutions are not immune to the challenges of the job market.

Traditionally, graduates from IITs were highly sought after by corporations globally. However, there is growing skepticism about whether these graduates continue to be the prized assets they once were. The rapid expansion of IITs has increased access to education but may have compromised the quality of education across newer campuses. Attracting and retaining top faculty has become a significant challenge, impacting the overall educational experience and the skillsets of graduates.

Graduates from newer IITs, despite bearing the prestigious IIT brand, may not possess the same appeal to potential employers as their counterparts from more established institutions. This disparity can lead companies to prioritize candidates from older, more reputable IITs. Additionally, the current economic climate has made companies more cost-conscious. Graduates from tier-2 or tier-3 colleges, often with comparable skillsets, are seen as more economical options. This trend underscores a broader market dynamic where companies focus on cost-effectiveness, especially during economic downturns.

The job market for IIT graduates is also influenced by the types of roles companies are looking to fill. According to Adil Malia, CEO of The Firm, IIT graduates are often targeted for new, high-caliber roles rather than replacement positions. However, these graduates may not be the best fit for core manufacturing or shop-floor jobs, especially if initiatives like “Make in India” gain prominence. Companies are becoming increasingly aware that unless they genuinely need the high-caliber profile of an IIT graduate, it might not make sense to pay a premium for employees who might leave due to a mismatch in job expectations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the situation. Lockdowns and virtual learning have disrupted the education process, potentially affecting the preparedness and skill levels of graduates. However, experts like Ramesh Shankar and Nihar Ghosh argue that these issues are part of broader economic trends affecting both individuals and academic institutions, rather than being solely attributed to the pandemic.

The unplaced IIT graduates are symptomatic of a confluence of market forces, educational challenges, and the pandemic’s lingering effects. While the “COVID batch” of students faced significant disruptions, the challenges they encountered remain relevant for future graduates. It is crucial for educational institutions to ensure that their curriculum and teaching methods are aligned with industry needs. At the same time, companies need to re-evaluate their recruitment strategies to focus on identifying the right talent, regardless of the institute’s brand name.

Collaboration between academia and industry is essential to produce graduates who are not only highly qualified but also readily employable in a rapidly evolving job market. This partnership will help ensure that India’s educational institutions continue to be relevant and that their graduates can meet the demands of the modern workforce.

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