NOT HALF-BAKED

Engineers board attributes unfilled jobs to mismatch between courses and industry needs

Members want the government to introduce internship components in all infrastructure projects

In Summary

 

• Only 100 of the 1,200 students who graduate annually are absorbed in the Public Service. The rest are left on their own.

• The board of engineers board is engaging the government and relevant stakeholders to come up with measures to close the gaps.

INNOVATION: Workers assemble the movable house in Wawere, Kisumu.
INNOVATION: Workers assemble the movable house in Wawere, Kisumu.
Image: SAMUEL OTIENO.

The mismatch between engineering courses and market needs is affecting the industry, according to the Engineers Board of Kenya.

The board blames the mismatch for the unfilled vacancies in the industry.

Board members spoke during an experience-sharing workshop at Maanzoni Lodge at the weekend.

“It is unfortunate that vacancies remain unoccupied even as our universities continue to produce graduates who cannot get jobs every year, Prof Bernard Odera, a director at the Technical University of Kenya’s School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said.

Odera said consultations had exposed a big mismatch between what is taught and what the market needs.

He said the board was engaging the government and relevant stakeholders to come up with measures to close the gaps.

The don blamed the state of affairs on the limited number of lecturers to handle the increasing needs in engineering courses.

He gave the example of TUK with 15,000 students, 7,000 of them taking engineering courses with only six registered engineers as lecturers.

“Most of the engineering lecturers we have in our colleges and universities are still registered as graduate engineers. We have about 14 professionally registered engineers out of whom six are at TUK, four at Masinde Muliro and two each at Machakos and Murang'a,” Odera said.

Ten universities in the country offer engineering courses.

Director of School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering at Technical University of Kenya. Bernard Odera and Engineers Board of Kenya CEO Nicholas Musuni at Maanzoni Lodge last weekend.
CONSULTATIONS: Director of School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering at Technical University of Kenya. Bernard Odera and Engineers Board of Kenya CEO Nicholas Musuni at Maanzoni Lodge last weekend.
Image: PATRICK VIDIJA

Registrar and chief executive of the Engineering Board of Kenya Nicholas Musuni said the situation has been exacerbated by lack of resources.

Musuni said at least 1,200 graduate engineers join the job market annually and called on the government to offer more internship opportunities to them.

Industry player and Kenyatta University lecturer John Nyaguti regretted that only 100 of the 1,200 are absorbed in the Public Service. The rest are left on their own.

“This is why we have seen some being featured selling items on wheelbarrows yet they have undergone a rigorous process at the universities, and time and a lot of investment spent on them,” he said.

Nyaguti said the government has a lot of infrastructure projects and should develop policies to ensure each of the projects has an attachment component.

“There are so many graduates out there losing knowledge because industry players expect that they should be real professionals when they leave learning institutions. This is why for a long time universities have been blamed for producing half-baked graduates.

“Where will they get the experience if they are not incorporated in such projects by the government? Let the government create relevant projects to absorb majority if not all of these students,” he said.

The don said the current cadre of graduates is conversant with ICT  that industry players should tap into and upgrade their old ways of doing things.

Dean of Engineering at Moi University Simiyu Sitati said university training should be of interest to all players.

“We cannot train them on all aspects at the university. That is why they have been allowed three years of practical work through internship. The problem is that there is no structured way for them to attain the skills,” Sitati said.

He added: “Universities do not have projects to offer attachment to these students. That is why we are asking the government to have a component of internship in all upcoming projects for engineer students.”

His sentiment was echoed by acting dean at Masinde Muliro University Bernadette Sabuni, who said the mismatch can be handled by doing the right thing from the beginning.

She said most poor students on admission are forced to go back home for basic requirements as their well-off colleagues are taught.

"This contributes to gaps in class progression,” Sabuni said and called on the government to introduce initiatives like grants to encourage the uptake of engineering courses.

 

- mwaniki fm