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Who produces more engineers? The US or India?

February 14, 2007

Even though 439689 students are entering engineering institutes for four year degree courses in India, there are researchers abroad who pooh pooh these statistics even though they have been provided by a respected body – the All India Council For Technical Education. In fact a study by Duke Univ says in its December 2005 analysis that India produces just 112,000 engineers while the United States produces 137,437 engineers and China 351,537. A quote:

“The most commonly cited numbers for annual engineering graduation are 600,000 from institutions of higher education in China, 350,000 from India, and 70,000 from the U.S. We simply couldn’t find the basis for these numbers…our report…caused the National Academies to revise an assessment they recently published on U.S competitiveness. Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times columnist, added a page to the 2006 update of his book The World is Flat discussing our findings.”

This study by Duke may not be new but in an EE Times article in 2006 these findings have been re-confirmed.
So who is right? Duke or the All India Council For Technical Education whose figure of 439689 has probably increased by 20% since 2004? Well, I would say the latter. Even if a quarter of the students drop-out (which I don’t think they do) the number that remains is still 329767 engineers yearly.
So is the quality of the Indian engineers poor?
No study has been conducted to guage the quality of the engineers. However if one goes by what Nasscom (National Association of Software and Service Companies) President Kiran Karnik has said, only a quarter of our engineers are ‘employable.’ While addressing vice-chancellors from across the country last November, he said:

“…the entry selection average stood at 20-25 per cent for engineers and 15 per cent for other graduates…the curricula were outdated in most universities and equipment obsolete; students, he said, had weak foundations because of which they were unable to pick up new skills. He also blamed the education system for not emphasising on communication, or encouraging teamwork.”

If 75% of our engineers are not good enough, this leaves us with 82442 employable engineers. Less than the number that the Duke study talked about…but wait. These are the number of engineers who constitute the ‘cream.’ They get snapped up by industry even before they pass out of college. As this same article explains, in India today 600,000 engineering graduates are being produced yearly out of which a 100,000 get hired immediately. Another 200500 get jobs after a while. So it boils down to this: Around 300,000 engineers are employable. Not a small number by any standards.
The reality check…
What Aziz Premji, chairman of Wipro Technologies, a $2.4 billion global technology player said makes a lot of sense to me. He spoke in Silicon Valley just a month or two ago:

The skilled worker shortage is in the U.S., not so much in India. We are finding there is a huge shortage in the U.S., exactly what you saw five years back during the dot-com boom. Attrition levels are going up here. I was with the dean of engineering at Stanford University in the morning, and I was chatting him up and he said, though the amount of engineers the United States is producing continues at 100,000 to 110,000 a year, the number of engineers going into information technology has significantly come down. The U.S. is not producing enough engineers, enough IT engineers.
As far as India is concerned, I think the supply of talent is adequate. I think the growth of the industry there is putting some strain on talent at the middle management level. Companies are putting a lot of effort and energy into training. It is not a perfect situation of supply and demand, but it’s manageable. I think it’s (the shortage) is getting hyped out of proportion.”

Well, in my opinion complacency is not a good thing. Here in India our media screams its head off almost everyday about the quality of our engineers, but it looks like in the United States there are actually studies to make people feel complacent. I do not know whether people living in the US believe these studies and I do not know what the media there is saying. But if they are saying that everything is hunky dory then I would say the US has something worry about.

Related Reading: Are our engineers good enough wonders India
India could hire from abroad to make up the shortage of engineers
More and more Indians on the Forbes 2006 Billionnaire list
Britain not investing enough in India
Engineering colleges in India tol get Washington Accord affiliation
Highest pay packets in India in 2007
People’s think differently about the other countries than they thought earlier (research)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Firestarter permalink
    February 14, 2007 9:40 am

    India will take 163 years to match China’s R&D its appalling…

  2. April 9, 2012 9:19 pm

    Well i would say number of engineers in india is surely much higher than in US but quality is obviously less kind of jobs indian engineers are doing in US are service based and Americans are either not interested in those jobs or the ones who are interested are not qualified enough..

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