Assessment of Civil Engineering Inputs for Infrastructural Development

The research study on “Assessment of Civil Engineering Inputs for Infrastructure Development” was undertaken by the research study group comprising of Prof  SS Chakraborty as Coordinator and Prof Prem Krishna, Dr Nagesh R Iyer and Dr SK Thakkar as Members. This aim of the study is creating a position paper on Civil Engineering manpower available in the country at present and envisions the needs for the ensuing immediate future. It covers emerging trends in Civil Engineering technology, the expected growth of various forms of infrastructure and developments in other disciplines of engineering where Civil Engineering plays an important supporting role. Further, the issues of quality as well as the measures for bridging the gap were addressed. The aim of the study was to draw a realistic road map that quickens inclusive development of the society as well as the profession. The focus is on the availability of well-equipped manpower in a sustained manner, facilitated by projected inputs from the industry and a supportive framework of Government policies and programs. The study estimated the Civil Engineeringmanpower requirement for meeting the infrastructural development targets.

The research study reported herein has the objective of identifying steps for setting things right, in the limited context mentioned above, by assessing the broad dimensions of the issue, namely the requirement of civil engineers and their availability, and estimating the gap between the two. Further, the issues of quality as well as the measures for bridging the gap are addressed. The Report begins with the requirements for the study and delineates the methodology adopted. It takes the performance of the Eleventh Five Year Plan (XI FYP) as a proxy and its sectoral allocations as the template for the XII FYP with an investment target of Rs 46,12,500 crores  in the infrastructure sector. The report seeks to give a broad overview of the two important aspects, namely, the requirement and the adequacy of the Civil Engineering workforce. The focus is on evaluating the requirement of civil engineers, particularly engineering graduates, to meet the infrastructure needs in various relevant sectors. The subsequent discussion focuses on the availability of well-equipped manpower, from the academia and the research institutions in a sustained manner, facilitated by projected inputs from the industry and a supportive framework of Government policies and programs. 

The disaggregated man power requirement sector-wise is as follows:

Briefly, in the Roads and Highways sector, indicative calculations show that an average annual enhancement in the order of 38,000 is necessary to absorb the XII Five Year Plan (FYP) outlay. For railways, the Indian Railways being keen on upgrading technology, it is only appropriate that civil engineers, with their expertise in GIS and other relevant advanced technologies, will comprise a higher share, say 0.4% in the personnel requirements, implying an addition of 27,000 during XII FYP. In the Power sector, the annual enhancement, estimated at 26,200 has another important hidden feature: the changes in the skill set of the workforce given that the energy mix would be different with renewable and nuclear power purported to occupy a larger space. Rapid urbanization demands an annual average increment of 35,000 civil engineers to the workforce. Similar estimates with regard to Civil Engineering components of the various other sectors lead to an average annual enhancement of the order of 160,000, from the current level of about 15,000.

India is poised to reap huge demographic dividends over the next two decades which have to be availed of with a sense of urgency. In this scenario, any programme to improve Civil Engineering education has to be pragmatic and affordable. While rapid urbanization makes education more accessible, it also requires huge improvements in the quality of technical education. A robust financial framework has to be devised to meet the requirements while accommodating the constraints. The Civil Engineering community must focus on how to prepare the current workforce better to appreciate and apply the emerging technologies, and develop appropriate curricula that internalizes dynamism for that purpose in the face of various constraints including, inter alia, availability of funds. The Report explores suitable methodologies in this regard as well as the financial resources needed.

The Civil Engineering community must focus on how to prepare the current workforce to develop appropriate dynamic curricula. It is estimated broadly that Rs.10,000 crores would be required for creating the necessary infrastructure for producing an additional 1,45,000 graduate civil engineers per annum, whereas the recurring cost might be recovered on a sustainable basis from the students as normal tuition fees. There is a need to find about 40,000 faculty members, across the various sub-disciplines of Civil Engineering. As regards in-service training, it is suggested that a small percentage of the project cost, to be absorbed in three years, be added to the cost of the project, as a line item in the project budget. It is estimated that an average of nearly 40,000 engineers over the next 6 years could be given appropriate, project-specific training funded from this cess.

The Action Plan outlines is as follows

1.  Establishing an adequate number of engineering education institutions.

  1.   Civil Engineering degree courses should be mandated for engineering colleges that seek approval.

The focus may be shifted away from the IIT model and towards the Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels, with a view to broaden the base for producing good quality graduates.

Science graduates (particularly B.Sc with Physics), may be brought into the engineering stream through specially prepared curricula in existing Civil Engineering programmes.

Requirement of Ph.D. Degree for faculty positions may be relaxed for undergraduate teaching, particularly as a short-term measure, in order to annul the acute shortage of faculty. A program of mentoring the teachers should be taken up as a formal requirement as an immediate measure.

The academia should work towards shaping a graduate engineer for professional practice. A student must undergo mandatory professional summer training in industry for a duration of four months before the degree would be conferred on him.

A programme of incentives to enter the engineering profession for rural population and girl students.

The nodal agency for the above recommendations may be the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Rural Development, GoI, and state level authorities with appropriate responsibilities.

3. A formal set-up for upgradation of Civil Engineering Education and Practice be framed.

Specialized training institutions, called Institutions of Civil Engineering Training (ICET), such as National Institute for Training of Highway Engineers (NITHE) should be established, preferably 4 in number, to serve the 4 regions of the country with faculties, primarily from the industry.

Institutes that have local relevance like the National Inland Navigation Institute (NINI) at Patna will also have to be replicated across the country. The National Power Development Institute has been put on a strong footing through a combination of government and private party participation.

4. The funds for enhancing the Civil Engineering education scenario and also for in-service training facilities must come from the project costs to the extent it can bear without endangering the viability of the project, particularly in the case of the PPP mode of execution. An indicative suggestion: a line item at 1% of the project cost for the year 2011-12 and at 0.5% thereafter.

  1.   It is suggested that a Civil Engineering professional entity may be established under the combined auspices of the Industry and the Academia for managing such a fund. The fund will feed the ICETs.

ICETs will primarily cover the function of mentoring of faculty and of in-service training of graduates, apart from keeping track of the dynamics of the changing needs of the profession and the related curricular changes by:

Input for academic programmes – curriculum upgrade, faculty training

Industry-academia interaction

Planning, design and monitoring the implementation of training programmes.

Arranging knowledge dissemination events on specific topics

Promoting comprehensive development of the Civil Engineering profession – new technologies, new materials, new design developments etc.

Another important task that ICETs should undertake is to popularize Civil Engineering. What is proposed here is an outreach programme by the profession for the high schools in the urban as well as the rural areas.


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