Kolkata: Students joining engineering colleges in West Bengal this year seem to have developed disaffection for information technology, or IT. Top graders in the common entrance test for 53 engineering colleges in the state preferred streams such as electrical, electronics and mechanical over IT.
Even after the top 10,000 students exercised option until the end of last week, almost 60% of 2,000 seats in IT engineering were vacant, according to the central selection committee.
“IT companies that come for campus recruitment do not discriminate between IT and non-IT engineers. Core engineering streams offer more career options,” said Aryadeep Chakraborty, who ranked 703 in the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE) — the common entrance test for engineering colleges in the state. He has opted for mechanical engineering at Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur — a government college.
“Many IT firms are rethinking their recruitment strategy now. So, students are worried and somewhat reluctant to join IT engineering courses this year. But the trend, in my opinion, would be short-lived,” said Tirthankar Datta, assistant professor of electronics at the Institute of Engineering and Management (IEM), a private college in Kolkata.
Though seats in top government colleges such as Jadavpur University and Bengal Engineering and Science University aren’t empty, there are ve-ry few takers for IT courses offered by private colleges in the state. These seats, too, aren’t going to go empty, but would be taken eventually by those who do not have other options.
Warshid Khan, a student from Asansol, who cannot afford to move out of his hometown, said: “Though I would have loved to read electronics and communication, I might have to settle for IT because I might not get anything else at Asansol Engineering College.”
The response to computer science and engineering, a similar course offered by some colleges in the state, is slightly better than IT, but much worse than previous years. The contents of the two streams are slightly different — computer science focuses on software development, and IT deals more with support services.
It’s an irony that the West Bengal government continues to woo top IT firms such as Wipro Ltd and Infosys Technologies Ltd, but students here refuse to study IT engineering, worried that landing a job won’t be easy when they graduate in four years. The state’s IT department, however, expects software and IT-enabled services (ITeS) companies to create as many as 200,000 new jobs by 2011.
“I think the apprehension is misplaced,” says Siddhartha Datta, pro vice-chancellor (academic) of Jadavpur University. “If the IT sector goes through a massive downsizing, who are the ones who are going to survive? The IT engineers for sure. They are the ones who read the subject for four years,” he added.
Potential recruiters admit there’s some amount of apprehension among students, stemming from the recession in the US. “Companies and students will soon realize this is a temporary phenomenon. But till then we will have to deal with it,” said Kalyan Kar, managing director of Acclaris Business Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a US-based ITeS firm, which recruits a large number of graduates from engineering colleges in West Bengal.