Open source projects offer a path to employment for engineering students in IndiaSakthi Kumar
High Unemployability Rate Among Engineering Students
Every year, roughly 1.5 million engineering students graduate in India and enter the job market. According to a survey conducted by a New Delhi-based employment solution firm Aspiring Minds, only 7% of the 1.5 million engineering students have employable skills.
There are many reasons attributed to this low employment rate among engineering graduates – outdated syllabus, lack of quality teachers, lack of research oriented education etc.,
However, there is yet another reason for this poor performance – the lack of collaboration between the industry and universities. This disconnect between what is happening in the industry landscape and what the engineering students learn in their academic program, is a major contributing factor for the lack of employablility of many graduating students.
Technology Industry Landscape
The entire technology industry is going through a tectonic shift due to significant forces gathering behind the Open Source Software Community, primarily to create a community around alternate software solutions that are free, open and standards based. Open Source Community is literally waging a war against many established software companies that provide proprietary closed architecture solution that are way too costly.
Many cloud companies sponsor these Open Source Software Projects because they are the primary consumers of these free Open Source Softwares. These technology companies also hire talented engineers to contribute source code to these projects. There are so many Open Source Software Projects under the umbrella of The Linux Foundation sponsored by various companies.
How U.S. Universities Benefit from Open Source Projects
Many universities in the U.S. collaborate in several Open Source Projects. They not only write code but also test the software for various operating scenarios, simulate real world deployment environments in the lab, help reproduce software bugs, verify bug fixes check into development branch, document open caveats in software release documents.
Engineering students who actively contribute to these Open Source Projects, potentially get hired by those corporations that sponsor the project.
Situation in India
However, many universities and engineering colleges in India despite having an active placement cell, struggle to place as many final year engineering students as possible before the academic year ends. They fail to see the potential opportunity the Open Source Software Projects provide.
Many MNC's in India such as Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, and Cisco are sponsors of various Open Source Projects in The Linux Foundation. They spend a lot of money every year to train their own employees to contribute to Open Source Projects. They also leverage some of the Open Source Softwares for both in-house use and to build a solution for their customer's use.
Even several small and medium size enterprises in India also leverage free Open Source Softwares for their operations.
How Indian students could benefit from Open Source Projects
If the engineering students of each engineering colleges in India, explore how to install, configure, and upgrade just one Open Source Software, with some basic understanding of the functioning of the software, it will be more than enough to fetch them job opportunities at many MNC's in India. The students should try this as the first step, before they begin to collaborate actively in any of the Open Source Projects.
Moreover, various universities and colleges in India could benefit from the Open Source Softwares that are free to use, to run their campus IT infrastructure and the lab infrastructure. Also, Indian universities and colleges, like U.S. universities and colleges, could provide on-campus job opportunities to students by hiring them to install, run and maintain these Open Source Softwares in their IT department. It will be a win-win for both colleges and students.
Universities in India can increase the employment potential of at least 10% more engineering students every year, if they start exploring Open Source Projects as a potential path towards employment.