There is an engineering employment problem in Africa. We recently reported on South Africa engineering graduates that had taken to the streets with cardboard signs and begged passing motorists for jobs. The two graduates that had gained some social media fame both has their honours in chemical engineering. Now, in Kenya, a graduate with his bachelor of science in electrical engineering and a diploma in project management has begged for a job as well.
His name is Gilbert Mutai. He received his BSc through Kenya's Technical University and is now unable to find work after graduating.
The World Economic Forum, in a 2014 report, said that South Africa had the third highest unemployment rate in the world between the ages of 15 and 24.
The executive director of the SA Graduate Employers Association, Cathy Sims, spoke to IOL about the government's intention to work more closely on graduate programmes that could lead to employment for graduates. She said: "I certainly, having worked in the sector for the last 20 years, have seen a significant increase in employers actively pursuing entry level candidates. We have been measuring the growth of demand for graduates in our research since 2007 and the demand has more than doubled in eight years at our member organisations. On the other hand, there are also many companies that need trained technical professionals - be they engineers, accountants or lawyers. They will typically be placed into a position, provided with on-the-job training and fill meaningful roles."
The problem is not limited to Africa, not by any means.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK conducted a study that included engineering graduates. They find that 58.8 percent of UK graduates had found work during the 2008 recession...but in non-graduate jobs. This means they worked in retail or something similar, an industry that did not require their degree.
"There's a need for universities to give these groups more targeted support in making the transition from study to employment. And employers need to change their perceptions to avoid squandering talent," said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union in the UK. [Via: Telegraph]
Finding employment in the engineering industry is becoming harder and harder. What experts are instructing graduates to do is, is equip themselves with non-engineering skills like entrepreneurship, writing skills and the likes so that they are more attractive to employers. However, if a Kenyan student who has both his BSc in electrical engineering and a diploma in project management can't get a job, there is a definite problem that needs to be addressed in the country itself.