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Employment Opportunities for Tamil Medium Engineers in Tamil Nadu (Jobs for Engineers)

K. Pitchai

TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2014 (ID. 2014-03-01)
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OUTLINE

1. Introduction

2. The Bad News: Reports of Discrimination Against Tamil Medium Students by Some Companies

2.1 Discrimination in Job Interviews
2.2 Japanese, French and German Engineers are not Educated through English. Are They Inferior?
2.3 English Communication Skills does not Need English Medium Education
2.4 Statistical Methods to Identify Discrimination
2.5 Deny Government Contracts to those who Discriminate

3. The Good News: Highest Salary Offer to Tamil Medium Engineering Student


Abstract: Engineering employment in Tamil Nadu: Tamil medium civil and mechanical engineers enter the job market. The highest salary offer goes to a Tamil medium student. Discrimination from some companies is also reported.

1. Introduction

We were elated and applauded in 2010 when many engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu introduced Tamil as an optional medium of education  for civil and mechanical engineering undergraduate studies. Now hundreds of Tamil medium civil and mechanical engineers are about to enter the job market. We are hearing a mixture of good news and bad news. First the bad news: it is reported that some engineering companies in Tamil Nadu are discriminating against Tamil medium engineers in hiring (Tamil Murasu, December 27, 2013; The Hindu - Tamil edition, February 5, 2014). The full employment situation is not clear yet because engineering students have not yet graduated and the hiring season has just started. The good news is that, as of now, the highest salary offer is to a Tamil medium mechanical engineering student (The Hindu - Tamil edition, February 5, 2014); this is a clear indication that qualified students are in demand irrespective of their medium of instruction. We do not want to jump into hasty conclusions but we would like to discuss the situation and offer some constructive suggestions.

2. The Bad News: Reports of Discrimination Against Tamil Medium Students by Some Companies

2.1 Discrimination in Job Interviews

The first batch of Tamil medium engineering students would graduate later this year. Most job offers would come later this year. So the employment situation is not clear yet. However we do hear some disturbing news about campus interviews. Both Tamil Murasu (December 27, 2013) and The Hindu (Tamil Edition; February 5, 2014) reported complaints from some Tamil medium students that some private companies coming to colleges to conduct job interviews are ignoring Tamil medium students. There is no statistic available yet. So we will wait. If data show that such discrimination does exist, we urge the Tamilnadu state government to take effective action.

All we are asking is that companies should not discriminate against Tamil medium engineers; we are not asking private companies for any favoritism to Tamil medium students. Give them a fair chance. Their engineering knowledge should be the deciding factor in hiring and not their medium of education.

2.2 Japanese, French and German Engineers are not Educated through English. Are They Inferior?

Are those companies that allegedly discriminate against Tamil medium engineers implying that Tamil medium students are less knowledgeable and less capable than English medium students? That is nonsense. Engineers in Japan, France and Germany, for example, are educated in their mother tongues. No one questions their competence or job performance compared to engineers from English medium countries.

2.3 English Communication Skills does not Need English Medium Education

We do understand that certain level of communication skills in English is necessary in India. Engineering companies operating in Tamil Nadu have the right to expect certain level of proficiency in English. The required level of proficiency should be commensurate with job requirements. Engineers who have to deal with foreign or out-of-state clients do need a higher level of English proficiency than those working on projects within Tamil Nadu. By the way, engineers working on projects within Tamil Nadu should have proficiency in Tamil irrespective of whether they studied engineering in Tamil or English.

I suggest that representatives of engineering colleges meet with representatives of engineering companies in Tamil Nadu and discuss the level of English proficiency required of Tamil medium engineers. Then engineering colleges develop a suitable English curriculum and examinations in consultation with engineering companies. Only engineering students who pass the English examination shall receive Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) degree.

Once this is done, there should be no discrimination against Tamil medium engineers in companies working on projects within Tamil Nadu.

2.4 Statistical Methods to Identify Discrimination

Non-compliant engineering companies should not think that they could pretend to interview Tamil medium students and then ignore Tamil medium students in hiring. There are statistical methods to verify discrimination. If the ratio of Tamil medium engineers hired to the total number of engineers hired is substantially less than the ratio of Tamil medium engineers applying for jobs at the company to the total number of engineers applying for jobs at the company, then there is sufficient reason to believe that the company is discriminating against Tamil medium engineers. If the former ratio is 0.09 (9%) and the latter is 0.10 (10%), the difference is not significant enough to accuse discrimination. If, on the other hand, the former ratio is, say, 0.06 (6%) and the latter is 0.10 (10%), then there is sufficient reason to believe discrimination. Now it is up to the company to explain why lesser percentage of Tamil medium students was hired. For example, the company can show data that among those who applied for jobs in the company, Tamil medium students had lower grades in engineering subjects than English medium students.

2.5 Deny Government Contracts to those who Discriminate

If a company is found to be discriminating against Tamil medium engineers, Tamil Nadu State government should stop buying products from them and stop giving them design, construction or maintenance contracts. These methods of statistical analysis and punitive measures have been and are used in the United States of America to end or reduce discrimination of minorities and women in employment. Tamil Nadu State government should enact the necessary laws, if necessary. Companies that have fair hiring policies have nothing to fear from such laws.

We urge Tamil medium engineers and their family and friends to approach their Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and state government with positive suggestions in this regard.

3. The Good News: Highest Salary Offer to Tamil Medium Engineering Student

The good news is that, as of now, the highest salary offer this year is to a Tamil medium mechanical engineering student Ms. S. Shanmugapriya (The Hindu - Tamil edition, February 5, 2014). The major multinational company, Mahindra & Mahindra, has offered her a salary of 5.6 lakhs Rupees (10 lakhs = 1 million). Mahindra and Mahindra employs 180,000 people in over 100 countries. Its engineering products include automotive, aerospace, defense and energy equipment and components. Mahindra & Mahindra products are sold not only in India but also around the world, including United States of America (USA), Latin America, Canada, European Union (EU), Southeast Asia and Africa.

We are pleased that such a company has seen quality in engineering students irrespective of their medium of education. That is all we ask from engineering companies. Do not discriminate Tamil medium engineers but give them the same chance as English medium engineers. Make your hiring decisions on the basis of a student's engineering skills, not on the basis of the language of instruction.

We do hope that most companies will do so because it is in their interest to hire best available engineers. If statistical methods show that some companies are discriminating against Tamil medium engineers, Tamil Nadu government should deny those companies state government business in purchases and design/construction contracts (as discussed in Section 2.5).


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