Internships – The sole path to develop real life technical professionals

Dr. Niranjan Swarup, PE,
Hon. Director H.E.,
Construction Industry Development Council
Email: cidc@cidc.in ; niranjanswarup@hotmail.com

1. Background

Engineering Council of India (ECI) is now taking up a major initiative of training engineering and management students. ECI is created for professionalization of Engineering Operations. Recently ECI has entered an MoU for conducting internships with Indian Government Technical Education Regulator, AICTE (http://www.aicte-india.org/downloads/eci.pdf). This MoU authorises ECI and its member associations to provide compulsory internships to students of AICTE approved programs. Total number of candidates for these training programs are close to 2.5 million each year. It is a giant step, and CIDC, jointly with other 32 technical societies / associations, would be contributing its bit in this major national training initiative by providing some of these trainings in construction sector.

2. Indian Technical Education Scenario

In India, technical education contributes a major share to the overall education system and plays a vital role in the social and economic development. Technical education is imparted at various levels such as: craftsmanship, diploma, degree, post-graduate and research in specialized fields, catering to various aspects of technological development and economic progress in India. Volume wise, Indian Engineering and Technology education sector is one of the largest national higher education initiative with an annual graduation strength exceeding 2.5 million catering to all sections of trade and industry. This national initiative is regulated by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). With such vast numbers, interventions of AICTE need to be supplemented by the industry constituents and technology promotion organizations. In India, this assistance is being provided through internships and now a major initiative has been taken by AICTE by partnering with Engineering Council of India so that the output of graduates could be enhanced and thereby their employability.

3. All India Council for Technical Education

AICTE was established in November 1945 to survey on the facilities on technical education and to promote development in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner. And to ensure the same, as stipulated in, the National Policy of Education (1986), AICTE be vested with statutory authority for planning, formulation and maintenance of norms and standards, quality assurance through accreditation, funding in priority areas, monitoring and evaluation, maintaining parity of certification and awards and ensuring coordinated and integrated development and management of technical education in the country. In the year 1987, AICTE became a statutory body through an Act of Indian Parliament. Its objectives include proper planning and co-ordinated development of the technical education system throughout the country, the promotion of qualitative improvement of such education in relation to planned quantitative growth and the regulation and proper maintenance of norms and standards in the technical education system for matters connected therewith. AICTE has been empowered to take all such steps as it may think fit for ensuring coordinated and integrated development of technical and management education and maintenance of standards and for the purposes of performing its functions. Internships with ECI is one of such steps which is expected to transform the technical and management education sector from its current enviable position. AICTE details could be accessed from its website http://www.aicte-india.org.

4. Engineering Council of India

ECI is registered as a Not–for-profit Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, and is the prime institution to standardize and harmonize, in various major engineering disciplines, professional practices in India and competency standards of practicing professionals with their counterparts in other member countries of WTO, having among their founding members Planning Commission (Now NITI Aayog),  All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), National Board of Accreditation (NBA), Central Public Works Department (Ministry of Urban Development), Department of Commerce (Ministry of Commerce & Industry), Dept. of Secondary and Higher Education (Ministry of HRD), Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research & several other Professional Institutions. ECI members, individually, are engaged in different trainings, and with subject MoU would also get involved in the collective national movement.   A detailed list of its members and other details are hosted on ECI website www.ecindia.org.

5. Need of internships in Indian Perspective and Profile of Candidates

The technological advancement and rapid growth of the Indian industrial sector requires professional education system to continuously update and upgrade at a matching pace, so that the learners are well trained in modern technologies and can adopt innovation to meet the challenges. However, due to substantially vast numbers of learners from various technology and management streams and limited resources, the professional institutions like engineering or management colleges and Universities are finding the updating the education systems and skilling of enrolled students somewhat difficult.

In many cases, due to poor knowledgebase, the passed-out graduates are unable to render appropriate services to Industry and are either under-employed or at times left without any employment. These individuals, who otherwise could have been a better professional, could not grow due to shortcomings of their educational institutions.

This situation is of no-win for all, the industry is unable to get quality manpower, and is forced to engage under-qualified individuals and delivering erroneous or bad quality products at one end of this chain, and the candidates, who despite having invested their time and monies, are not adequately skilled to deliver appropriate services to their employers and in turn remain under or un-employed at other end of this chain. The society, in totality, looses a lot as at one end valuable resources are being spent on creating lower valued human assets, and at other, the outputs of these undertrained individuals results in more losses for the society.

The need today is to create learning opportunities so that graduating candidates are empowered and made adequately employable. These opportunities are now being made available to learners through these internships by AICTE jointly with ECI and its Member Associations. Such ECI members, like CIDC, who until now, were conducting such programs in a voluntary manner, are now included in the formal education system as participation in their internship programs are proposed to be made mandatory for the award of the degrees from Indian Universities.

6. Salient Features of the AICTE-ECI MoU

Both the parties, upon recognizing the increasing importance of hands-on training and continuous skill up gradation of new entrants & practicing engineers, have decided to act jointly by introducing compulsory Apprenticeship/ internship in the technical institutions, for increasing employability of Technical Graduates. Both the parties have entered an MoU to initiate and implement programs of apprenticeship and up-gradation of skills, to enable upliftment of their economic and social status. MoU can be viewed at http://www.aicte-india.org/downloads/eci.pdf.

7. Plan of Action

  • ECI has been invited by AICTE, to act as the authorized body to facilitate Hands-on training and/ or arrange for “internships” to technical graduate education for their Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

  • AICTE has agreed that it shall provide database of AICTE approved technical institutions to ECI.

  • AICTE has also decided to issue required “Advisories”, “Directives” or introduce regulatory provisions, as deemed necessary, to the colleges/ Technical Institutions and Universities to further the objectives of this initiative.

  • ECI, either directly or through its members, shall approach colleges, technical institutions and professional organisations and make necessary arrangements towards implementation of desired objectives.

  • ECI shall also organize Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs and work towards professionalisation of engineers, particularly for taking part in trade in engineering services in the world-integrated market economy of India.

  • ECI shall carry out the internships, hands-on-training and CPD through its Member Professional Engineering Associations /Societies / Institutions, as per Systems and Procedures laid down by the ECI.

  • ECI has been authorised to issue Certificates of Participation in the CPDs and Internship as per Systems & Procedures laid down by the ECI.

8. Internship Program for Engineering Students & Faculty Members

In an endeavour to provide quality manpower to the construction industry and to enhance professional performance of fresh engineers, CIDC, jointly with construction industry stakeholders, has been offering variety of internship programmes for the students and faculty members from the core engineering disciplines for the last few years. CIDC is providing this training in construction industry sector with a view to helping the growth of, both learners, as well as construction industry sector. The systematic approach of these programmes, with emphasis on the specific needs of the industry on a real-time basis, enables learners to acquire additional knowledge and exposure beyond conventional education, and enhance their employability hence providing the value addition to Industry.

9. Internship Process and Expected outcomes

Approved internship programme duration is of six (6) months with five (5) months of onsite/on job training with companies, and 15 days each of pre-and post-internship training and submission of project report to a grand internship jury. Currently, the pre-and post-internship training and project report submission to a grand jury is done at CIDC corporate office and training centre at Faridabad, Haryana. With this MoU in place, these activities shall be performed at number of places in India.

Currently, upon joining the program, the candidate is put through the pre-internship training after which the learner is deputed for the five months to a host organization. The industry partners supporting this programme work as the host organizations. The program envisages that the host organization will locate the intern engineer or manager at its sites or to works locations as may be appropriate for a period of five months. Upon conclusion of five months of on-site/on-job training, the candidate is required to return the central training centre, prepare the internship report, and then face the grand jury for program end testing and certification during the post internship period.

As the AICTE is making this training and the certification mandatory for the grant of degree, learners would, through this regulation, gain immensely. During this period of on-site/on-job posting, the intern, while contributing to the work at site is also expected to achieve proficiency in his stream. This internship helps the student in gaining the essential skills that would be useful in creating a successful career as the learner gets exposed to real life situations and their proper solutions. This enables him or her to learn the basic skills needed in future professional life. Additionally, during the internship, the student is expected to abide by the rules and regulations of the site of posting and strictly adhere and follow instructions of the designated site officer leading to the understanding about HSE (Health, Safety & Environment) in a better way.

The organization gains through the availability of a trained engineer who throughout the internship makes a positive contribution at site as he is tuned to the organization’s needs and environment. The organization also gains this valuable resource at a minimal sourcing and administrative cost and if found suitable, the candidate turns out into an asset as a future employee.

10. National Database of Interns

ECI, in its systems, has the process of register of engineers and the individuals put through these internships, are proposed to be included as student engineers in the registry of ECI. Such engineers, after meeting the basic requirements, can get elevated in different ranks of professional engineering qualifications in line with the registration systems established by ECI. This registration will also offer opportunities to trained individuals to have authenticated referral system to support them in their quest for employment and continuance thereof as well.

11. Continued Professional Development of trained students by ECI

Under the MoU it has also been agreed that ECI shall also organize Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs and work towards professionalisation of engineers, particularly for taking part in trade in engineering services in the world-integrated market economy of India. With reference to interns this system is proposed to be deployed to continue the professional development of individuals so that the growth of the person continues beyond the internship periods and he or she becomes an asset for the industry and the society.

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