The government plans to allow lateral entry of students from Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) to polytechnics and from there to degree-level engineering colleges in order to make the technical workforce more employable and in tune with industry requirements. Around six-and-a-half lakh graduates leave engineering colleges every year,but only a quarter of them are employable and nearly two-thirds of them need to be re-skilled before they can be put on the job.
In order to upgrade their skills and improve the curriculum,the government plans to urge the private sector to participate and facilitate linkages between polytechnics and the industry. The ministry of human resources development (HRD) has set up a seven-member task force with members from the industry and academia to draw up a blueprint detailing the modalities.
In 2009-10,there were 2,872 All India Council for Technical Education- (AICTE) approved degree-level institutes with an intake of around 10 lakh students while the 1,659 AICTE-approved diploma-level technical institutions had almost 4.7 lakh students. Though there has been no mapping of the demand-supply gap in engineering,experts say the problem is not one of shortage; instead,there is an excess supply of unemployable engineering graduates.
Recently,the ministry said a separate division of 60 students per course can be started from the second year onwards in all AICTE-approved institutions for polytechnic students for lateral entry. There are almost 2,500 polytechnics in the country and their annual intake is approximately half that of degree-level engineering institutions. They offer three-year diploma programmes in engineering and technology,applied arts and crafts and other courses.
However,sections of the industry are opposed to the idea of lateral entry as it feels that students from these three categories cater to different needs of the industry.
The ITIs have students for blue-collar jobs while polytechnics create supervisor-level officials and degree-level colleges make managers. So,lateral entry will raise the aspirational levels of students. Besides,there is a greater need for supervisory level officials also, said an industry representative who attended a meeting on the issue recently.
A tough entrance exam is considered as a solution to this,so that lateral entry is not easily provided and meritorious students not denied opportunities.
As for the linkages with private players to encourage public-private-partnerships,the task force which will submit its report in 10 months may look at providing some form of incentives to the industry for upgrading the polytechnics. For linkages with the industry,an idea is being floated on the lines of the World Bank scheme as part of which the private parties adopt an ITI and get Rs 2.5 crore to upgrade them, an official involved in the process said.