The prevailing boom in the infrastructure and construction sectors has brought the glimmer back into civil engineering, with the demand for civil engineers growing on an average of 40-50 per cent per year.
In recent times, civil engineering, once a sought-after stream, had been completely overshadowed by the sunrise streams of computers, electronics, etc.
This year the recruitment in the sector has been intense so far and with the government's renewed thrust in the sector, the intake is likely to go up further.
A Confederation of Indian Industries study indicated that the top 10 construction companies are expected to recruit more than 2000 fresh graduates and 20000 civil engineers during the current year.
"The sector in general is witnessing heightened activity and there has been a significant increase in the number of projects. This has automatically led to a surge in demand for civil engineers,"said Simplex Concrete Piles Pvt Ltd senior manager Pramod Mishra.
For the current year Simplex which used to hire 60-70 engineers annually does not have any upper limit and has set a target of recruiting 400-500 engineers in the next 6 months alone.
Industry major Larsen and Toubro has taken the lead in this and is recruiting engineers in thousands now. "The emergence of the IT sector and buoyancy in manufacturing had taken the sheen off civil engineering but the scenario is changing dramatically now. Since the year 2003-04 our intake has gone up and we are now doubling our recruitment every year," said L&T Vice President (HRD) G D Sharma.
The boom has also brought the glimmer back into civil engineering with pay packages seeing a commensurate increase. As in any case of demand outstripping supply, pay packets have gone up by more than 50 per cent over the last five years.
"Unlike in the past, there could be a serious shortage of engineers in the near future. Demand has had a direct positive impact on pay scales which have increased by 30 to 40 per cent in the last two years," said Mishra.
Better job opportunities and improved income levels are gradually luring students to opt for civil engineering as well.
"Civil engineers from five years ago are generally less averse to joining the construction sector now. The engineers prefer to work with the organised corporate construction sector and since more jobs are available, more and more people are opting for civil engineering, rather than just electronics and electrical which were the most popular streams earlier," said Feedback Ventures Chairman Vinayak Chatterjee.
What is more heartening for the sector though is the fact that the industry feels that this is just the beginning of better times.
"We have just started and for the whole industry as such 2003-04 was a year of turnaround. Our order book position is exploding and the number of projects are multiplying by the day. We are beginning to gather momentum and I don't expect any let up in the next decade till 2015," said Sharma.
Many feel that the government's stress on private participation has opened new avenues and opportunities for the sector. The industry is expected to peak around 2010 and the market is expected to increase by 20 per cent every year till then.
"There is a lot of work to be done in infrastructure and if we are to be a global power by 2015, this is one area which will continually see frenzied activity," said Mishra.