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Indian College Students Face Bleak Prospects

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the firm-handshake-and-accentless-English dept.

The Almighty Buck 483

The New York Times has a piece on the lackluster prospects facing the great majority of Indian college graduates. Most of the 11 million students in India's 18,000 colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, according to the article, heavy on obedience and rote memorization and light on useful job skills. From the article: "In the 2001 census, [Indian] college graduates had higher unemployment — 17 percent — than middle or high school graduates... [At a middle-tier college] dozens of students swarmed around a reporter to complain about their education. 'What the market wants and what the school provides are totally different,' a commerce student said.... [A] final-year student who expects next year to make $2 to $4 a day hawking credit cards, was dejected. 'The opportunities we get at this stage are sad,' she said. 'We might as well not have studied.'"

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483 comments

Let me just be the first to ask: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17117752)

Who gives a shit?

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (1, Insightful)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117810)

Agreed. This has nothing to do with nerds. What is it doing here? Not to mention half of us are bitter toward Indians anyway as a result of outsourcing..

Oh maybe thats why.....

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (1, Insightful)

defile (1059) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118070)

Agreed. This has nothing to do with nerds. What is it doing here? Not to mention half of us are bitter toward Indians anyway as a result of outsourcing.. Oh maybe thats why.....

Mod points here for insightful.

I'll never understand why Americans are so bitter about this. I don't have a single colleague who can say they lost their job to offshore outsourcing, or even has any trouble getting a new job for great pay.

If anything, I have only positive things to say about offshore-outsourcing. Farming out the easy stuff frees me up to pursue the more lucrative stuff, like working more with customers or developing partnerships.

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (5, Insightful)

emor8t (1033068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118320)

Well, I don't think it is a big of a problem as it is made out to be, I know people who have lost their jobs to outsourcing. However, I think the underlying hate comes from the people who have to call tech support at a placed based in India, and then can't understand or communicate with the person on the other end of the line. All things considered as well, if your calling support, you are probably already frustrated enough, and now you can't understand what the other person is saying? I can see that being pretty aggravating. Worthy of hating an entire nation? Probably not.

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (4, Insightful)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118500)

I don't hate India. I hate the companies that route my calls there.

What's annoying about the Indians taking the calls is that they pretend to understand when you use words or phrases they don't get, and it quickly becomes apparent as they struggle to troubleshoot a problem they never comprehended in the first place. But they're taught to do this, just like they're taught to tell me their name is Steve or John or Bob. Again, it's really the fault of the company putting the almighty dollar ahead of customer satisfaction.

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (5, Funny)

yali (209015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118654)

What's annoying about the Indians taking the calls is that they pretend to understand when you use words or phrases they don't get, and it quickly becomes apparent as they struggle to troubleshoot a problem they never comprehended in the first place.

And this is different from American customer service how?

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (2, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118330)

I'll never understand why Americans are so bitter about this. I don't have a single colleague who can say they lost their job to offshore outsourcing, or even has any trouble getting a new job for great pay.

Well, I lost a cushy job to outsourcing... only it wasn't Indians... it was Canadians! Damn their ice hockey, bacon, and Rush!

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118528)

Damn their ice hockey, bacon, and Rush!

Alright, enough of the conservative-bashing...oh never mind, you meant the band.

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118484)

I'll never understand why Americans are so bitter about this. I don't have a single colleague who can say they lost their job to offshore outsourcing, or even has any trouble getting a new job for great pay.

Either you're lucky or you don't know enough people who are impacted. All these big companies are moaning to the politicians that they can't find qualified cheap labor here in the U.S. when they don't want to pay for training American workers who want a higher wage based on experience and a benefit package. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop when all these Indians are dumped for cheaper African labor.

Re:Let me just be the first to ask: (2, Interesting)

ashridah (72567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118492)

I believe you'll also find that there's a group of us who face a different problem from outsourcing development.

My peers (I'm a sysadmin by trade) often discuss the quality of what they've had to deal with when it comes to products developed this way. I read a report recently from one that noted data from the past 4 years showing that while the per-hour cost was low, the products typically took longer to develop, were of much poorer quality (crimes against database normalization, etc), and often had issues following the specs, or followed them in odd ways. These things tend to lead to massive headaches for your average sysadmin

While it's not completely possible to say that some of these issues might not have happened locally too, it's pretty clear there isn't much value to be gained from outsourcing.

ash

So... (-1, Flamebait)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117772)

Is that really different from the US? Most CS graduates can't code their way out of a wet paper bag.

They spent all their time learning about useless crap like advanced multivariable calculus, matrix theory, and other math crap instead of learning how to program.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117832)

interesting to say that stuff is useless... if programming really is just a commodity trade, then that other stuff is useless. but if computer science consists of more than just programming (which I believe it does) then math is certainly relevant.

Re:So... (1)

kalaf (963208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118186)

Math is definitely important for a generic computer science course, but I think the real problem lies in the fact you CAN NOT train just anyone to be a good programmer. They have to have a genuine interest in the field, have a good logical mind, and preferably not have much interest in doing anything else with their life for the next 10 years...

I started in computer science in 1995, but because I was working full time I only did a few courses a year. This allowed me to see multiple generations of people going through the first and second year "programming" courses. To be polite, the quality of individuals did not improve as the profession became known as a good way to make money. And, in true university fashion, the difficulty of the courses progressively declined. In my third year software engineering course (probably 2001-2002) we didn't have to complete the final project because someone (I can only assume they were well connected) complained that it was too hard to get it done and study for final exams at the same time.

Re:So... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17117846)

Most of the 11 million students in India's 18,000 colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, according to the article, heavy on obedience and rote memorization and light on useful job skills

That sounds exactly like the the US-colleges I've visited. I'm so glad I live in a culturally superior European country and not in the steaming heap of patriotic dogshit that you call USA. Goddamned, our elementary schools are more challenging than your universities, you fucking teabaggers.

Re:So... (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118380)

Don't worry here in the US our elementary schools are also more challenging than our Universities. I frequently have difficulty helping my child do her homework, while I handle my CS degree work just fine. //Not really, the problem is more either understanding the nonsense directions given that can only be understood in context to the lecture my child obviously didn't listen to, or getting my child to understand basic concepts in order to do her homework.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118682)

I would be seriously suprised if your elementary students even knew what the hell ZFC was, let alone if they could actually prove something trivial with it. I would also like to see your elementary students do quantum mech.

From all the American educated scientists, mathematicians, and engineers: Fuck off, asswipe.

Re:So... (1)

Phu5ion (838043) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117940)

Yeah, and those courses give you the analytical skills to be more than a mere rote programmer, or as I like to call them, "code parrots". All they can do is mimic what their professor told them, and have no ability to expand there knowledge to become a real developer.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

emor8t (1033068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118054)

I agree, at least as far as the learning of the useless things. I spent 3 years taking GEC's at a "traditional" college. Alot of things I had to go through did not directly reflect what my overall major is. Since then having switched to a more technical, but not quite DeVry-esque technical, I have learned alot more about my field. But what has helped me more is being in the field rather than school. I got a job when I started college because I knew FrontPage (And now I know better) and that has also helped greatly. Working their I learned CSS and a good portion of Photoshop, networking skills, etc. It almost seems to me that the availability of apprenticeships or internships would be more beneficial to people than traditional college, at least in the Tech field. Yet companies are unwilling to do, at least in my experience.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118446)

I agree, at least as far as the learning of the useless things. I spent 3 years taking GEC's at a "traditional" college. Alot of things I had to go through did not directly reflect what my overall major is.

I find that as a materials engineer the gen.ed. classes I took have much more application in the real world than some of my required clases. I've never had to use vector calc in 7 years, but I have needed a general understanding of business, contracts, and IP.
Theory is nice, but in the real world sometimes it's better to fix problems than understand them.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118076)


  Spoken plainly as one who doesn't use any advanced algorithms in their coding. Lemme guess, you paint forms and play with DB rows?

  Let me enlighten you: The heart of Computer Science is ALL "math crap".

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

hspain (532931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118176)

Spoken plainly as one who doesn't understand the job market.

The heart of most Computer Science *jobs* is in "painting forms" and "playing with DB rows".

Re:So... (2, Informative)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118648)

Spoken plainly as one who doesn't understand the job market.

The heart of most Computer Science *jobs* is in "painting forms" and "playing with DB rows".

Funny, I graduated in '03 and have been gainfully employed doing embedded programming for the last 5 years. Between contracts I'm beating the head hunters off with a stick because they can't find anyone capable of doing C and Assembly for embedded targets. You can keep your "painting forms and playing with DB rows," I'll stick to safety critical real time applications.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118122)

I think it's a bit too harsh to say that all of that stuff is useless, but it is true that few students will get much use out of it until much later in their careers.

My complaint is that most schools don't teach good large project management skills. Everybody works on toy programs by themselves or in small groups and on short deadlines. That is highly unrealistic in the real world and teaches the kids a lot of bad habits IMHO. I think it would be better if the schools put more emphasis on project management (both from a manager and coder perspective), including version control, planning, testing, debugging, and so forth. Grading would be a bit more difficult, but the ability to compare students based on their amount and general quality (how many fixes did it require afterward?) of checkins would be a good place to start.

The class could even mix it up a bit between writing their own project and maintain last year's project, especially if they build stuff that is actually useful and post it online. Granted, this is an ambitious project for a classroom, but I think it's the only way to properly prepare students for the real world.

Absolutely. (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118338)

Second this.

There's way too much emphasis on starting your own projects from a clean slate, which is very rare in the 'real world.' More often you get handed the spaghetti-code mess of the "last guy," to puzzle over and figure out how to document and maintain.

Too much CS education is focused on the very beginning of the software lifecycle. That's like churning out doctors that can only deliver babies, when what the market needs are GPs and geriatric specialists. Grads need to know not only how to start a new project themselves, but how to pick up one that's in the middle of development, or that's well into its maintenance phase.

Re:Absolutely. (2, Interesting)

bhalter80 (916317) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118688)

I never understood why CS students couldn't be given a project that could grow as they furthered their education. For example it might begin as something little in the intro class then blossom into something that encompased large data structures, and move on to threading with OS, network connectivity with networks, a database based backing store and DOCUMENTATION along the way with a good SW engineering. In college I wrote a lot of crap code because I'd never see it again. If I had to learn about some of the evilness I wrote and why not to do it again it would have made me a much better programmer out of the box.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118198)

It's far easier to teach someone who can think how write programs than it is to teach a programmer how to think, as you've demonstrated clearly enough.

Re:So... (0, Redundant)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118220)

They spent all their time learning about useless crap like advanced multivariable calculus, matrix theory, and other math crap instead of learning how to program.
You are making the mistake of mixing up a trade school programming degree with a CS degree. If you want to learn skills which will allow you to get an entry-level programming job today, go to the trade school.

If you want to learn how to approach the profession with a scientific outlook, which will enable you to get an entry-level programming job today and get a new one tomorrow when industry makes a major shift in languages or paradigms, go to the university. The math will make your programming better. The multivariate calc is possibly the least useful math class a CS major could take. More important is set theory, matrix theory, probability, and statistics.

Another way to evaluate degrees is this: were you taught how to think and program, or how to write Java? If Java becomes dead in 5 years, the person who learned how to program will shrug his shoulders and move on. The person who learned how to write Java will become unemployed. (Note: I'm just picking on Java; replace it with language X, and the statement holds true).

Re:So... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118224)

Funny. I went to school for art, and instead have been a software developer for the past 10 years. I have had to amass my own collection of trig, geometry, calc, and linear algebra books to make up for my 'lacking' education.

Re:So... (1)

FireFlie (850716) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118510)

You are an exception, that is all. While it would not be too much of a streatch to get an art degree and become a web designer or something of the sort, one generally will not take their art degree to adobe or microsoft and say "You know, I really want to program." and actually have any chance of getting a job.

I'm a math programmer, You insensitive clod! (2, Informative)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118232)

I'm a double major (math and CS) and I'd like to think that I can program AND do math. In fact, my job requires both! The purpose of math in CS degrees is to encourage logic, pattern-recognition, and problem-solving, things a good coder needs. Admittedly, most programmers won't ever use advanced math. Even I don't use calculus on the job- just very interesting trig.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118234)

Well, duh. They should have taken a programming course. Studying CS to learn programming is like studying Economics when you want to go into business - economics and business are both about money, after all.

The problem is that stupid companies think programmers with a degree are better, even though there are no university level programming degrees.

(spoken as a programmer with a CS degree, but I got it because I love math and theory)

Re:So... (4, Informative)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118250)

I guess all those finite element and fluid flow analysis packages out there just wrote themselves. You know about those, right? They're what drove the design of computers for a very long time. Computers weren't designed from the beginning to let you download music, videos, and basically supplant television as the glass teat in your life.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

phliar (87116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118266)

They spent all their time learning about useless crap like advanced multivariable calculus, matrix theory, and other math crap instead of learning how to program.

Universities aren't a place to learn vocational skills.

This is especially true for CS. If you just want a decent paying job, you can get the needed skills at lots of places like ITT-Tech. You don't need a CS degree to write web front-ends and PHP/SQL scripts, or to be a sysadmin.

If you don't want to learn the theoretical foundations, why get a CS degree? You don't get a physics degree if you want a job fixing cars.

Re:So... (1)

Synic (14430) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118470)

If you don't want to learn the theoretical foundations, why get a CS degree? You don't get a physics degree if you want a job fixing cars.
For once this is an actually good analogy for this situation.

Re:So... (3, Funny)

scheming daemons (101928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118280)

Is that really different from the US? Most CS graduates can't code their way out of a wet paper bag.

I know *I* can't. Damn proprietary hardware. Anyone ever seen an API for paper bags, specifically wet ones? Damn hard to find one.

Now... *plastic* bags, that's another thing. I can code my way out of all kinds of plastic bags. But hey... who can't?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118422)

That math stuff is a lot harder to learn later in life when your head is crammed to bursting with the millions of lines of code you've written and maintained over the years. Be glad you had the chance.

Oh, and computer programs have a lot in common with mathematical proofs (or at least they should).

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

Rotten168 (104565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118490)

Actually, the fact that you find advanced math topics "crap" says loads about your particular education/skillset.

Re:So... (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118536)

They spent all their time learning about useless crap like advanced multivariable calculus, matrix theory, and other math crap instead of learning how to program.
You must be a Visual Basic code monkey that programs pretty stuff GUIs for medical insurance applications, eh?

A little math goes a long way in siplifying algorithm coding. Oh, sorry, you're not an analyst, you're just a programmer.

This is where college went wrong (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117784)

In the US and India. College isn't training you for a job, it is learning a field of study. Perhaps this is the issue, jobs require these "degrees" and now that is what colleges teach to, not the theory behind the area of study. My college was guilty of this, sadly.

Re:This is where college went wrong (4, Insightful)

zymurgyboy (532799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117932)

How is that wrong exactly? A university education is not about job skills. Trade school is about job skills. How terrible that someone would spend four years learning about a larger world, a variety of different disciplines and develop a love of learning for its own sake. College is not, thankfully, a means to end. Nor should it be.

Re:This is where college went wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118182)

> College is not, thankfully, a means to end.

Of course it is, or else it's a damn expensive vacation. Vocational training just isn't one of those ends.

Re:This is where college went wrong (2, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118206)

How is that wrong exactly?

That wasn't what he was complaining about. He was complaining that companies started demanding degrees as proof of "training" (as opposed to proof of the ability to learn skills) and many colleges obliged by providing the training that the companies wanted.

Also, if you think that's not what companies want when they ask for a BS or a MS in Computer Science, how many of those job postings did not tack "and years of experience in ..." onto a degree requirement if they were looking for a graduate that had a degree that proves that they had a variety of disciplines and a love of learning that the candidate could then use to get up to speed in ... quickly?

Re:This is where college went wrong (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118474)

It sounds like you are a professor trying to protect your job, or a student who is trying justify the cost of your education. The truth is most students who go to college do so because they want to be employable with decent salaries after they get their deploma. While many use it as a terific opertunity to learn more then just what they need for their job, they still want to be able to enter the work force at a good wage after they are done. "learning about a larger world, a variety of different disciplines and develop a love of learning" is a good cause, and they do help out a bit, but they fail to cover what it needs to live in the larger world that they learned about. After graduating with a Compter Science degree I never realized how much of the time I am interacting with people, having to balance my programming time/cost vs program optimization. Learning about Finance, Sales, Engineering... So I can create programs that are useful to them. Just last week I was talking to an old friend at college and he said, "I don't know why college never bothered teaching us SQL and Database? I spend a hell of a lot of my day working on that.". It is the colleges responcibilty to prepare the student to an extent for living outside of the protected education enviroment. They can do this while helping students to learn "about a larger world, a variety of different disciplines and develop a love of learning" they are not indepent of each other. It just requires colleges and universites to get their noses out of their butt and poke them in the comerical world and see what they are doing there. And they may be supprised that life outside of education has many interesting areas of study that they never explored.

Re:This is where college went wrong (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118702)

College is not, thankfully, a means to end.

Huh? What gave you that idea? I'd think that very few people go to college for the "enjoyment" of it. They go there to learn, but for not for the sake of the process of learning. I'd think that if people could press a button and upload into their brains Matrix style all the information/skills they would have learned/acquired in college, by far the vast majority would choose that option.

Re:This is where college went wrong (1, Flamebait)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118130)

Exactly. I would gladly hire 10 indian workers at $10-20/day (which I've been told isn't a bad salary in many parts of India) if they had even a small degree of any computer related skills. Wouldn't even need to be coding. And I'm not talking about offshoring work that would be done by Americans, I'm talking about adding new areas to my business that I couldn't possibly provide if I were to use American labor. This would be a win-win for everyone, since it would provide additional revenue that I could use to hire highly skilled American workers for other new markets I'd like to enter.

The problem is that it's difficult for non-Indian employers to connect with these unemployed individuals ... or that these people have skills that are basically worthless overseas. I'd probably vote for the latter, as everything I'm hearing nowadays claims that highly skilled IT workers in India are in very short supply, and demanding ridiculous (for India) salaries.

Re:This is where college went wrong (4, Insightful)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118226)

The difference between a bad college and a good college is the how vs the why. At a bad college they teach you HOW program in C++. At a good college they expect you know HOW to program in C++, they teach you Why programing languages are they way they are.

Re:This is where college went wrong (5, Interesting)

bockelboy (824282) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118346)

A good college shouldn't expect you to know HOW to program in C++. A Good College should teach how to program first and foremost, where the example language is C++.

I had friends in Georgia Tech who were decent Java programmers who did miserable in their introductory programming classes because the professor chose an extremely obscure language that no one knew beforehand. This way, he knew that no one came in who knew programming, but didn't know the concepts. By choosing a weird language, he could force concepts first, specific languages later. They hated it, got a poor grade, but came out better programmers.

On the same note, a mathematician does not differentiate between solutions of ax^2 + bx + c = 0 and x^2 + 5x + 1 = 0; knowing how to solve the quadratic equation is the important part, the second is just an example to make the theory easier.

Re:This is where college went wrong (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118372)

College isn't training you for a job, it is learning a field of study

I paid for my college education by working several jobs and taking out student loans. My expectation was that college was providing me with training for a job in a specific professional field. It did, and in fact provided a fairly good ROI. That was twenty five years ago. Today with college education in the US easily running into six figures, I suspect most students are still looking for job / professional training. That is, unless you are fortunate enough to have a large trust fund, and time to pursue your muse.

Re:This is where college went wrong (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118684)

I blew $100k going to college to get a degree in CS. Probalby 75% of the skills I use on a daily basis I learned outside of the classroom on my own time. It is absurd that you *MUST* go to college now to get any sort of a decent job. Colleges have turned into the "apprenticeship" we once were "blessed" with. Sure, I am glad I went to college, but the amount of money I paid personally is a bit absurd to what I got out of it. Even getting my jobs outside of college had little to do with my in class skills, everything interview was was what I knew from outside experience from college. It is silly that a piece of paper has so much weight when I graduated with some grade A idiots.

Re:This is where college went wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118434)

I don't know why people keep saying this. I'm a computer engineering student, and so far, I've been taught how to be more than one who engineers computers- specifically, how to design microprocessors, basic circuit theory, calculus, etc. Sure, these are useful job skills, but I'm not "training for a job", I'm learning various things from the field that is designing ciruits and computer systems, along with a few from the field of computer science. I was taught the meaning of things such as the Fourier transform, and why it works the way it does- this is not a job skill, it is useful knowledge for someone who works with electronics. Many mathematical courses are required for a CE major, such as discrete mathematics (the basis of many CS concepts) and statistics, plus an entire course of math transforms ("Signals and Systems"). If college were about getting a better job, they could have given me a crash course in CS and digital logic, skipped the circuit theory and math courses (not to mention the liberal arts courses), and given me a degree. Instead, they build your field up from basic mathematical concepts, and make sure you know why everything is the way it is and why certain things work (or don't).

I suppose it is also the case that "learning a field of study" like Computer Engineering will likely get you a job.

Re:This is where college went wrong (4, Insightful)

yali (209015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118572)

There is no comparison between US college education and the middle-tier Indian colleges being discussed. From TFA:

A deeper problem, specialists say, is a classroom environment that treats students like children even if they are in their mid-20's. Teaching emphasizes silent note-taking and discipline at the expense of analysis and debate...

Rote memorization is rife at Indian colleges because students continue to be judged almost solely by exam results. There is scant incentive to widen their horizons -- to read books, found clubs or stage plays.

The problem isn't one of teaching intellectual disciplines versus practical skills. The problem is that Indian colleges are teaching neither.

Wrong for a college, but right for a trade school. (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118658)

I agree, however: "learning a field of study," is not what most people in college want, nor what most employers are looking for.

What most students want is job skills. Few students have the inclination (or spare funds) to learn for the sake of learning for four years, and then spend another two or three at a trade/professional school, before they can get a real position.

Students go to various schools in great part because of the job prospects they think they'll have on completion. Only the rich can afford to simply go because it will be intellectually stimulating. Plus, mixing together people who just want job training with people who are fundamentally interested in learning is a mistake; neither are going to be satisfied with the results.

To be honest, I think we need to remove some of the social stigma surrounding trade schools in the U.S., and we should have a clear path for students that just want to get job skills. Maybe the companies themselves could even help fund them, and in return get to dictate parts of the curriculum (via directed tax contributions, if not voluntarily). That would remove the education/industry disconnect. Students who wanted an 'education' would be able to go to college, and students who want 'job training' and a near-guaranteed job in a relatively short amount of time could go to the trade schools.

I think in the U.S. we have dragged 'childhood' further and further out; there is no reason why a person should have to go through nineteen or twenty years of schooling before they can survive on their own in the economy. Education needs to be made more relevant to what students want to learn, and more rigorous earlier in the curriculum. Huge swaths of my own education were nothing but wasted time because of the way the system is currently set up; there is no reason why a motivated 15 or 16-year-old shouldn't be able to be out learning a skill, if that's what they want to do. Making them acquire thousands of dollars in debt and years of wasted 'education' that they won't use first, helps no one.

Well then, outsource! (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117806)

> But as graduates complain about a lack of jobs, companies across India see a lack of skilled applicants. The contradiction is explained, experts say, by the poor quality of undergraduate education. India's thousands of colleges are swallowing millions of new students every year, only to turn out degree holders whom no one wants to hire.

Well, Indian companies, if your universities are turning out graduates of sub-par, and you're no longer pleased to being able to bringing products to markets in a timely manner, please to be introducing you a land where you can be outsourcing your business products and services. This land is being called America! And you can be outsourcing your technical business to it!

(We are apologizing for the quality of the technical support and code we send back. We are knowing that "Howdy Y'all! My name is Jethro! How can ah help y'all with yer blinkinlights?" and "Segmentation pwnage, core dumped, dude" isn't quite what you're used to receiving, but remember... you do get what you pay for.)

Re:Well then, outsource! (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118150)

LOL. If only education were the real issue. The jobs in the U.S. were outsourced to India because the labor there is much cheaper. Ironically, if U.S. corporations want to hang on to cheap labor in India, they'll need to do something to help improve the quality of Indian education. Otherwise, the supply of qualified talent will shrink and drive up wages due to soaring demand.

Welcome to America! (3, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117820)


"What the market wants and what the school provides are totally different," a commerce student, Sohail Kutchi, said.

Ironically, American businesses, i.e., tech companies, complain about the samething with U.S. Universities.

Re:Welcome to America! (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117894)

i wouldn't call that ironic - maybe a coincidence or 'interestingly enough' but not ironic.

Re:Welcome to America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118038)

i wouldn't call that ironic - maybe a coincidence or 'interestingly enough' but not ironic.
I guess he was pointing to the fact that the whole article is a flamebait - trying to inflame the anger/antipathy towards outsourcing.
So, in this case, it is ironic, I guess

Re:Welcome to America! (4, Insightful)

sholden (12227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118006)

Shock horror, Universities aren't job training centers. Who would have thought, places of higher learning actually caring about theories and learning and not about job skills.

Re:Welcome to America! (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118532)

The problem is, (presumably in both countries) the disconnect between expectations:

Businesses want to hire college graduates because they assume they will be better trained to do jobs.
Smart students go to college expecting to get trained to do jobs.
Colleges try to teach students to think, and don't give them any job skills training.
Trade schools get the students who (mostly) can't get in to a college, and try to train them to do jobs.

What businesses really ought to be doing is refusing to hire college grads and sinking their employment dollars into trade school grads, if that's really what they want. Pay good trade school grads more than you pay good college grads, and the smart students will start going to trade schools so they can earn more money in the job market.

an inside story (1, Interesting)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118612)

This is no joke. I can tell you a story from the inside. Once I tried to interest my faculty colleagues at a Large University That Will Not Be Named Here in setting up an exit exam for our degree program. A big comprehensive bugger that would "certify" our graduates in a measureable way and in particular specific skills. (This is in a scientific/technical field, by the way, so such skills are easy to define.)

Before all of you who are still students gasp in horror, remember the long-term advantages this would provide: first, you know in detail exactly what you need to know as a senior to leave when you come in as a freshman. You can use that knowledge to study more efficiently during your four precious years. (Indeed, some bright student entrepreneur would no doubt think to correlate student exam performance with whether the student had professor X or Y, so you could surely use it to select your classes and teachers, too.) Second, your degree is far more valuable because it's backed up with specific, verifiable warranty in these grade-inflated days. Since every graduate has passed the exam, a firm or graduate school knows for sure and in detail what graduates of this particular program know. That's the kind of gold-plated guarantee of competence that makes employers feel all warm and fuzzy about you when you turn up for your job interview looking appallingly young, like you started shaving yesterday.

Third, and most importantly, it would give a way for employers to feed back to we faculty what they did and did not want their employees to know. We'd invite them to help design the exam, and they'd give us feedback from when they hired one of our graduates. In this way we'd learn exactly what skills were wanted out there in the Real World(TM), and we'd learn rapidly whether we were successfully teaching those skills.

What do you suppose happened? Do you think this proposal went anywhere? If you shook your head cynically, you are right. In fact, folks were a bit horrified by my suggestion that employers have some influence in the curriculum. Good grief, didn't I realize that knowledge flowed from us (the university) to them (mere tradesmen), not vice versa? Next I'd be saying the purpose of education was merely to make a man a more skilled worker deserving of a higher wage, and not to open his mind to the wonders of the Cosmos, enrich his soul, bring him closer to God, whatever...

I couldn't even find out what happened to our graduates -- who had hired them, what fields and types of positions they'd gone into. The data had never been collected, and no one was interested in doing so. Amazing. Blew my mind, I tell you. Any other business that spent so little effort finding out whether its "product" was meeting the needs of the market would tank. But luckily in modern America "education" is the new "good breeding" -- it can mean nothing at all in a practical, tangible sense, so long as it sets you apart in some ineffable way as a "quality" person.

There are a few (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118704)

There are a few degree paths that can or do lead to taking a test. Lawyers have to take the bar. Engineers have the option of taking Professional Engineer tests (required for many positions and to advertise yourself as an engineer). There might be a few other professions. But even these examples support your proposition: certification leads to focused study and higher pay.

Ambition without opportunity (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117878)

'The opportunities we get at this stage are sad,' she said. 'We might as well not have studied.'"
That is certainly an unfortunately state of affairs. But it sounds like she hit the nail on the head. From the article it sounds like schools that teach the marketable skills are out of their financial reach. If thats the case, it doesn't make sense spending money on the cheaper schools when they provide no real benefit. All you're doing there is allowing them to continue with their useless practices and putting yourself in debt.

Use college funds for I'net for ideas, skills (3, Interesting)

ivi (126837) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117882)

My advice for these Students:

- Gather into small Learning Cells (about 5 students / cell)

- Setup Internet-based home study centers (eg, share houses
    with FAST Internet on each of their computers)

- discuss ideas, develop skills (technical, entrepreneurial) & knowledge
    from Internet sources, courses & talks

- publish & exchange ideas with similar groups

- start on-line businesses

:

- profit & live well...

Re:Use college funds for I'net for ideas, skills (5, Funny)

bebing (624220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118132)

You might want to avoid calling them cells though...

Obedience (4, Informative)

NetDanzr (619387) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117888)

"heavy on obedience and rote memorization"

When I was recruiting a replacement for me in my previous job as a financial analyst, the obedience aspect was the reason I rejected all Indian candidates. None of them, despite very high qualifications, didn't even make it to the second round, because the job required a high degree of personal initiative. I simply kept running into such a strong culture of obedience, that sometimes I had the feeling I was talking to computers: very fast, very good at what they were doing, but offering zero dissent or showing any desire to do anything on their own. A human garbage-in-garbage-out system.

Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17117926)

Other people are having a hard time! Hooray!

How much eductation do you need to say: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17117934)

"Hello, my name is Frank Nahaschanrdraventkalan, would please you be giving me the serial number of the computer/device/software which you are inquiring to problems you may be experiencing?"

The Guru (3, Funny)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#17117974)

"Name one indian here that doesn't drive a taxi"

"That guy on the Simpsons!"

... "He is a cartoon!"

Not a big fan of them in grad school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118000)

I'm a graduate student working on my masters in CS at the same school I did my undergrad at here in the US. In several of my classes, I've been stuck doing group projects with people who got their undergrad in India, and in almost every case, they just don't know their stuff. Often times, they hardly even know how to use a computer, much less program one. In one particular incident, a team mate of mine with a CS degree from India didn't even know how to mute the volume on his Windows laptop! He, of course, used said laptop in class every day, and it was constant playing sounds. I don't mean to be racist or anything, but the simple truth is that almost all of the masters students I know from the US are some variety of nerd and really know computers inside and out while almost all of the Indian masters students I've met don't have any kind of grasp on what they're doing.

Re:Not a big fan of them in grad school (1)

cmdr_beeftaco (562067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118302)

great idea for an interview question: can you mute your laptop? followup: if you have 2 laptops playing sounds how do you determine which to mute first? finally: tell me about a time you really wanted to mute your laptop but you couldn't.

Computer science is not easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118032)

To remember is that if "students aren't being taught what employers want" then other people are facing the same issue. In other words, your "competition" didn't get taught what employers want either.

When an industry is hot, a lot of people want to go into it. Unfortunately proper computer programming is not as easy as people think it is. It involves hard work and practice using proper software engineering principles, as well as a genuine interest in the subject (because you have to keep up with the latest techniques and tools). Also, in India there are a lot of institutes set up by people who haven't a clue of what they are doing. This is sad really, because India has a many talented folks who get shafted by these institutes. And the institutes that DO provide good training find it hard to compete against the ones offering certificates cheaply.

Anyway, my point is these students are complaining that they aren't being taught what they need to know. Well with the internet you can damn well learn it yourself, seriously. The great thing about computer science is that you can learn it yourself, it's not like learning surgery or gymnastics. Most importantly, don't do anything motivated by the money (because if you aren't interested in something you will be frustrated). Do some research from a library and find out what the industry wants, where it's headed. Write some software .. and show prospective employers what you can do. For example, if I were to hire a graphic artist .. I would sit them down in from of a non networked computer with Zbrush installed on it and ask them to draw/create a dragon .. any dragon .. and if I like it they're hired.

Same for hiring programmers.

In India, a smart company would modify its hiring practices from an emphasis on paper qualifications, even experience (because it's not a reliable indicator), being able to regurgitate memorized concepts towards getting people who are resourceful, adaptable, and can demonstrate their abilities.

No problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118062)

Just come to the USA and put people here out of work since you'll work for pennies on the dollar..

This isn't the fault of the Indian system per se (1)

chimachima (869508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118084)

They copied and pasted the American style of education of emphasizing theory over technical skills, which is why many universities nowadays tell you to go to a vocational trade school if that is what you desire, over studying the theoretical aspects of things (not to say that some universities do not provide this but you'll have to go to certain places for certain things). For instance, many years ago, you went university and BAM, as soon as you come out, you get a job that pays better than your coworkers even though you might not have the slightest idea of how to 'manage' or 'be a journalist'. Nowadays, the chances of you actually doing what you learned from school is increasingly rare and those who do are considered fairly lucky. It's common knowledge that an engineering student after graduation may have to go to a community college or a technical school to pick up skills that the workplace demands to become more marketable and earn more money. What the markets want is different from what the schools deliver to the students.

I see this EVERYDAY!!! (during an outsourcing) (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118190)

HOLY CRAP! this is my daily experience at work!

I can't for the life of me remember my /. account, but this is what I see everyday...

IT people that can't fix their own MS word problems...

give them instructions on step by step how to do something, no problem. Give them an exe and tell them to install a program, it'll never happen.

Everyone I've talked to says the same thing. give them a structured problem and they knock it outa the park. give them an open ended real world problem without structure given to them, and they are lost.

It makes me feel good about myself and the ability to think, and figure out what concept to apply and how to apply it...

give me a break (1, Flamebait)

gtshafted (580114) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118306)

This article is unfair to center the attention on Indian education. I can say the same thing for US education in general. School is about regurgitation and not much else. Personally I feel that my university degree is more about how well I listen to directions and follow orders than thinking.

IIT (4, Informative)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118332)

The article fails to mention that the IIT's are among the best schools in the world. It's not all bleak.

Re:IIT (4, Informative)

linguae (763922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118488)

Read the article again. The article talks about how IIT graduates are doing well in the industry because of their high quality of teaching. The main focus of the article, however, is on other Indian universities, not IIT (which is one of the best schools in the world).

And it's different in the USA how? (1)

nullset (39850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118354)

"And in this supposedly English-language college, the professors often used bad grammar and spoke in thick accents."

Hm...how is this any different from colleges in the US?

Re:And it's different in the USA how? (1)

scheming daemons (101928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118416)

I just saw a commercial running in Alabama for an apparently well-respected ol' time Ribs restaurant. Their slogan is:

"Ain't nothing like these ribs nowhere."

Triple negative! Woohooo! Only Americans can be that creative with the English language and still make their point perfectly.

"bad grammar" is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.

Wait one minute... (3, Funny)

WickedLogic (314155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118400)

Wait one minute... you mean we aren't all going to be well paid and rich? This sounds like that dot com thing that I heard about. I'm going to go back to my true plan, selling Amway products. Nutri-lite anyone?

Skill Versus Education (1)

hummdinger02 (997602) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118430)

We are seeing the global results of applying assembly line practices to education. It makes no difference what country we are talking about. The only reason this is such a hot topic is because the US Technology Czar and the businesses he is in bed with want the US to believe India is being chosen for out sourcing because of "More Skilled" employees. In fact we will likely find out that we are all pretty similar and that one group is chosen over the other for money reasons and to support the desire of executives to make 300x and 400x what the rest of us make. When do we outsource our executive positions to India to our similarly skilled and yet less expensive collegues?

Re:Skill Versus Education (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118640)

Executives don't possess any real skills.... besides being masters of deception and bullshit, but who doesn't possess those skills?? I say we outsource them to India and split their execessive salaries amongst the developers.

Prospects (5, Interesting)

basic0 (182925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118432)

"lackluster prospects facing the great majority of...college graduates"

Speaking as a college CS/Network graduate whom, 2 years after graduating, is still working as a janitor, allow me to welcome you to this planet.

In my case, it's not because I have inferior skills or training. It's because most employers I've had contact with see a diploma/degree as "quaint" and "irrelevant". Since I don't have 5+ years of experience, excellent "soft skills" (PHB corporate-speak if I've ever heard it), and I don't want to sell anything, I'm apparently unemployable, no matter what school I went to or how well I did.

Here's a brief story that gives contrast to the wonderfully frustrating experience I've been putting up with for over 2 years: I have a friend (who dropped out of highschool no less) who works in IT. One of his co-workers, a supposed IT expert who makes ~$100k a year, recently said to him "I assume we'll be using FAT32 for our 1TB backup drive's filesystem?". It seems to me, someone making $100k/year in IT should be aware of things like the limitations of FAT32 and Windows' implementation thereof. My friend tells me this sort of ineptitude is common among the IT "experts" he works with, and he spends more time correcting their mistakes than doing his own work. Meanwhile, I can't even get an *interview* for entry level jobs that a highschool student could perform.

Not that I'm bitter or anything. Anyways, back to washing floors so I can make my student loan payments. Thanks for listening :P

Re:Prospects (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118576)

"Excellent "soft skills"

Here's a brief story that gives contrast to the wonderfully frustrating experience I've been putting up with for over 2 years: I have a friend (who dropped out of highschool no less) who works in IT. One of his co-workers, a supposed IT expert who makes ~$100k a year, recently said to him "I assume we'll be using FAT32 for our 1TB backup drive's filesystem?". It seems to me, someone making $100k/year in IT should be aware of things like the limitations of FAT32 and Windows' implementation thereof.

Part of the "soft skills" is knowing that your friend is making up a story to make himself look better. Perhaps if you were able to distinguish bullshit from reality, you might do better in the interview process. Part of it is knowing HOW to interact, reading personalities and adjusting yours accordingly. If you can't see through a whopper like this, then I can see how lack of soft skills would be hurting you.

Odd bit from the article... (1)

Phil Steinmeyer (858286) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118452)

Rote memorization is rife at Indian colleges because students continue to be judged almost solely by exam results. There is scant incentive to widen their horizons -- to read books, found clubs or stage plays. That is not good news for Indian companies, which are hiring these days.
This makes no sense at all. Either the companies value extra-curricular activities, in which case it is easy to hire graduates who have these in their background, or they only value exam results, in which case they can hire graduates who focused mainly on that. But to say that they value trait A, but ignore it and hire only on trait B (when A is fairly easy to see on a resume or ask about in an interview) just doesn't seem right. Seems like sloppy writing to me.

answer: it is a function of cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17118454)

I have a lot of friends/colleagues whom did their undergrad in India and their graduate school here in the U.S. and have discussed Indian education quite a bit. As it turns out, India tries to educate the masses and the cost is nearly free. One friend did his M.S. in India before coming here and I think he said it cost 500 rupees total. I forget the dollar/rupee conversion, but remember he made a joke that 500 rupees was equivalent to "50 bucks" or some unexpectedly low price (from my perspective in the United States).

Isn't education simply a supply/demand issue, and if the masses are able to attend college, won't the overall value be correspondingly diminished? I wonder if any of you have first-hand experience with this?

   

Why mediocrity is valuable (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118524)

Build a few world-class universities like IIT and neglect everything else
==> prestige but lots of unemployment and an underperforming economy.

Build lots of perfectly-OK universities
==> educated population, opportunity for the many bright people in your population of a billion, vibrant economy and not just in a few geographical niches.

Education ... (1)

Laser Lou (230648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118628)

[A] final-year student who expects next year to make $2 to $4 a day hawking credit cards, was dejected.

If he is exercising independent business judgement while selling those credit cards, he may be getting a better education than any that one can get in any school.

Not to worry... (2, Funny)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17118720)

Most of the 11 million students in India's 18,000 colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, according to the article, heavy on obedience and rote memorization and light on useful job skills.

They can get jobs as TA's in American universities where they can require the students to obediently engage in rote memorization. All we need to do is reduce the xenophobia in the US's immigration policies.

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