Computer engineering and IT graduates have a higher job placement rate than any other graduates in the country’s job market, a recent study found.
The “Bangladesh: Computer and Software Engineering Tertiary Education in 2018” published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) tracked the graduates of computer science and engineering (CSE) and institutes of information technology (IIT) from nine universities in Bangladesh.
It was the second such study in South Asian countries and it assessed the employability of the graduates; examined access to and quality and relevance of the CSE/IIT university programmes; and identified possible areas for improvement.
The study found that the “demand for CSE/IIT graduates from the IT/ITES industry is strong, as evidenced by a 77.1% job placement rate for its graduates.”
This was much higher than the overall graduate job placement rate of 40 percent.
The research also found that the job placement rate of women was lesser than that of men. For women, the placement rate was 58.6 percent while it was 82.2 percent for their male counterparts. While the placement rate indicator was good, the study, however, showed that many graduates of the two subjects had to wait a year after graduation to get a job, suggesting that fresh graduates were not fully ready for the information technology and information technology enabled services industry.
“While the overall job placement rate of CSE/ IIT graduates is higher than the overall average of university graduates, universities need to make efforts to provide relevant jobs soon after graduation,” it said.
Of the nine universities surveyed, it was seen that graduates of this discipline from private universities were doing better in the job market than ones from government universities.
For job placements, graduates of Islamic University of Technology (IUT) were in the top position, followed by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), BRAC University, and East West University.
Islamic University of Technology graduates’ job placement rate was the highest at 92.4 percent, closely followed by the Buet at 91.1 percent. BRAC University had 87.1 percent and East West University 83.8 percent.
The CSE graduates from Jashore University of Science and Technology had the lowest job placement rate of 57.6 percent, which was said to have been a result of its geographical location.
The other universities surveyed are Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology, Daffodil International University, Jahangirnagar University and University of Dhaka.
Professor Dr M Kaykobad of the CSE department of Buet, said, based on his own assumption, it was true that graduates of these subjects were getting more jobs, adding, that many Buet students would eventually go abroad for higher studies.
“So, if any local organisation conducted the study, it would be more consistent,” he said.
LOW WAGES, OPPORTUNITIES ABROAD
The graduates of IUT had the highest mean salary of Tk 51,938 followed by the Buet, and Dhaka University, with ranges for both above Tk 40,000.
Overall, 89.5 percent of the employed graduates were in the private sector, 6.2 percent in the government sector, 2.9 percent in nongovernment organisations. Another 1.5 percent were self-employed.
On average, graduates who work in the education sector received the highest starting monthly salary at Tk 40,237, followed by those who worked in the software industry at Tk 39,772, financial and insurance activities at Tk 38,986 and IT consultancy at Tk 38,364.
For those not in jobs (22.9%), around half were active job seekers. Many of them were unemployed because of unsatisfactory working conditions, such as low wages.
But the average monthly wage among CSE/IIT graduates (Tk 38,780) was higher than the overall university average (Tk 30,000); one view is that job seekers have high salary expectations after graduating from CSE/IIT programmes.
Around half of the graduates also chose not to look for jobs and continue their education instead. The majority of respondents were graduates of bachelor’s programs, and some continued on to a master’s degree or other specialised training.
Interestingly, regardless of job placement status, 60% of graduates expressed an interest furthering their education or develop their career abroad.
The quantitative survey was conducted from July 6 2018 to August 16 2018. In total, 2,110 Interviews were conducted over phone. The tracer study focused on people who completed graduation between 2015– 2017.
The study recommended that the quality of CSE/IIT programmes require significant revision by introducing more hands on practice in curriculums. Students said that lessons were mostly theoretical. Up-to-date practical skills also needed to be regularly updated.
It said soft skills needed to be designed or integrated in the curriculum and pedagogy to strengthen problem solving and communication skills.
University infrastructure and faculty need to be developed to meet the industry’s growing demand. Additional hard infrastructure, such as computer laboratories and data centers, were also needed to expand access to quality CSE/ IIT higher education programmes.
Academic staffers need more industry exposure to provide quality and relevant guidance for students. Students count on teachers not only for research but also for career development.
Universities can strengthen support for startups to increase the number of successful high-tech entrepreneurs.
WOMEN LAGGING BEHIND
Job placement rate for women CSE/IT graduates was 23.6 percentage points below the rate for men.
In addition to family commitments, employers might have been concerned about women’s security during recruitment, the study said.
For instance, the employer survey indicated that working location and security issues moderately or greatly influenced recruitment decisions.
Family constraints and commitments were also a great or moderate consideration, which is consistent with female graduates’ feedback under the tracer study.
Other factors considered were lack of required vocational or professional skills, maternity leave, dedication to work, high turnover rate, inability or reluctance to take on challenges, and absenteeism.
In the recommendation, it is said access to CSE/IIT programmes, particularly for women, need to be expanded.
Assistance targeted to female students may also be considered as a way to close the gender gap in CSE/ IIT enrollment.