A decade ago, placement centres were the privilege of students of niche educational institutions.
Usually, students who pursued professional courses in institutes of national and international repute were picked by the leading names in the concerned industry for enviable pay packages.
Students who hoped to be well placed had to work extremely hard to get into these enviable positions.
Of late, the scenario has changed. There are placement centres attached to almost every urban college, impervious of the courses they offer.
At least sixty to seventy per cent of good students can rest assured of landing a decent, if not a plush, job at the end of their courses.
Various colleges have taken the onus of translating the dreams of the great middle class Indian who wants to educate his children so that they can get into well paid jobs.
The last semester of each course revolves around the ‘placement axis’. It is not just young undergraduates and post graduates who are vying for the best deal in the industry, colleges also compete with one another to attract the best companies to pick their students.
Many colleges have included a permanent functioning placement centre with exclusive faculty who keep scouting for better opportunities for outgoing students. Principals of many colleges, consulted on the subject, voiced similar opinions. They are aware that potential students who hope to study in their college take into cognizance the job opportunities offered by the college, besides the academic performance and results of students.
This new dimension of educational institutions has piled undue pressure on them. It appears that they can no longer concentrate only on studies but will be answerable to students if they are not employed at the end of the course. Even institutions which offer diploma courses have not been spared of this criterion.
Vanishree, who hails from Ramnagar, is pursuing a course in NIIT, Bangalore, compromising on her creature comforts, only because they have promised ‘100% placement’ at the end of the course. Aparajita, a student of Hotel Management in AIMS, has come down from Kolkata, incurring a lot of additional expenses, because she has been assured that she will be ‘well placed’ at the end of her course.
Chandrakanth, who is pursuing the last semester of BE, feels relaxed and secure because he has been chosen by an international company with a humongous pay packet.
The picture is clear. Academic courses pursued by students are only perceived as a means to an end — a justifiable one at that.
Colleges are ready to go that extra mile and make a conscious effort to see to that students have a secure future. In fact, they are proud to play the role of a launch pad to the careers of their students, which they hope will go a long way in the coming years.
Yet many staff members of ‘placement centres’ pointed out that many students take up jobs offered by the companies during the campus interviews only on a stop-gap basis. They do not mind signing bonds, flouting them, and paying hefty fines when they sight greener pastures. Some students who hope to pursue higher studies in foreign countries or in the IIMs and IITs take up the offered jobs for a couple of years, till they track down their chosen path.
Arpita, who gave up her job with an MNC to pursue her studies abroad, said that working for fourteen months helped her pay some of her bills. Arun, who worked for Infosys for eleven months before going to the UK to study further, said, “I got the feel of the industry. The exposure will help me be a better student.”
While these explanations of students have their own justifications, they do not discount the fact that such youngsters have shot down the opportunities of other aspiring candidates with a genuine need.
Vanita Deshmukh, who completed her BE last academic year, feels that she has not landed a good job as yet because her college did not place the necessary emphasis on ‘placing’ all their students. Fifty per cent of her classmates who were employed during the campus interview have given up their jobs for one reason or another. Vaishakh, a BE graduate, feels that he could have got a better offer if some of his friends had not played ‘dog in the manger and then given up their jobs within a matter of months.’
Nagraj, a senior HR personnel, opined, “We live in times of attrition. We cannot expect people to work for twenty or thirty years in the same place, but certainly, young educated people should learn to respect the opportunities given to them and work for at least three to five years. Otherwise, they should simply not take up the job.”
It is sad but true that students treat the hitherto unknown privilege extended to them in such a frivolous and thoughtless manner. The industry and the institutions should devise a way to circumvent this setback so that placement centres play a constructive role in the lives of youth.