Engineering graduates are facing unemployment if recent reports from around the world are to be believed. Quite recently it was reported that in Kenya, four out of ten students are studying degree programmes that are not accredited by the Engineering Board of Kenya (Unaccredited engineering degrees and unskilled engineers in Africa). Additionally, South African engineers have been facing unemployment issues since the conclusion of the Fifa World Cup in 2010.
However, Africa is not the only continent experiencing problems with the task of guiding engineers into employment with their respective qualifications they have earned. The London School of Economics recently conducted a study that produced a book titled Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education. The study saw researchers investigating the known details of 800 ISIS fighters, discovering that an overwhelming amount of them were engineering graduates. In an excerpt from the first chapter of their study, the group said: “In Fact, of the twenty-five individuals directly involved in the 9/11 attacks, eight were engineers.” The reason given for the radicalisation of these engineers ranges from “poor career prospects” to the unemployment and poverty of the Middle Eastern countries.
The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institue of Technology, Steve Mackay, spoke about the recent observations of unemployment of graduates worldwide in the third episode of the Engineering News Network: Engineering qualifications; worth the paper they’re written on? He said that engineering graduates finish their degrees but remain unemployed and this has been a problem that has “become more evident” in the last two to three years. “Not just one or two in a class but big chunks of graduates not able to get a job,” he added.
Mackay explained that one of the reasons graduates can’t get a job is because they have been taught “mumbo jumbo” – at the tertiary level – and are not getting actual useful information which would enable an engineering student to jump into work immediately and finish their degree.
Singapore’s recent plea for computer engineers to assist them in the Internet of Things and subsequently their cyber security industries has affected graduates who have other qualifications. According to ChannelNewsAsia, a Mr Tang – who has a chemistry degree – said, “Unlike our parents’ time, it seems like there are many people holding a degree now but the fact is there are many jobs out there that do not require a degree holder to do the work.”
An alternative to finding jobs in the engineering industry, Mackay suggests, is entrepreneurship. “We need to teach our students about running their own businesses and being entrepreneurs. Which means a high degree of failure but also enough success to create another Google or engineering equivalent thereof.”