WHO IS TAKING ALL OUR ENGINEERING JOBS?

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ENGINEERING TRAINING

When you ask young people in primary/secondary, what they want to be in life, they will say – I want to be an Engineer, a Doctor, a Teacher or a Policeman. A young man desiring to be an engineer will contend with passing very well in their ‘O’ Levels and proceed to University for periods longer than most University degrees, then proceed for another long period for their professional qualification by the Engineers Board of Kenya.

So what is engineering? How many Engineers does an economy need to grow and create jobs for its people? How many engineers does Kenya have in comparison with other countries?

WHO IS TAKING ALL OUR ENGINEERING JOBS?

Engineering education refers to the body of knowledge and principles related to the professional practice by engineers. It is the body of science and technology which deals with design, building- It includes the initial education for becoming an engineer and any advanced education and specializations that follow. Engineering education is typically accompanied by additional examinations and supervised training as the requirements for a professional engineering license.

Engineering training in Kenya is provided by the universities. Registration of engineers is governed by the Engineers Registration Act. A candidate stands to qualify as a registered engineer, if he/she is a holder of a minimum four-five years post-secondary Engineering Education and a minimum of three years post-graduation work experience.

All registrations are undertaken by the Engineers Board of Kenya which is a statutory body established through an Act of the Kenyan Parliament. The Board has been given the responsibility of regulating the activities and conduct of Practicing Engineers in the Republic of Kenya in accordance with the functions and powers conferred upon it by the Act.

A FEW OF ENGINEERING COURSES OFFERED IN KENYA UNIVERSITIES:

  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Biosystems Engineering
  • Industrial and Production Engineering etc

Some of the universities offering Engineering courses include: University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Moi University, Egerton University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Dedan Kimathi University of Science and Technology, Multi Media University of Kenya etc. In the past, a question of whether these courses offered by some of these universities have the quality and standards that allow students to complete their professional internships for registration by the Engineering bodies like the Engineers Board of Kenya.

In fact some courses from some Universities have been rejected by the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) as below the threshold for Registration of Holders as Engineers.

PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER’S REGISTRATION

Information about number of Engineers in Kenya is choppy. However, we know that, by the year 2016-there wereabout 8,750 trained university graduate engineers in Kenya according to the Engineers Board of Kenya website. The gender distribution is 93.7% male while the female gender is 6.2%). Out of this, less than 2,000 Engineers have been licensed to practice.

The status of engineering profession in Kenya has raised quality issues. The Engineers Board of Kenya suspended nearly all programmes in 22 public universities.

The move has thrown into jeopardy the careers of thousands of students pursuing the courses. It is also not clear what is happening with the employability of those who completed the programmes, if anybody has been held accountable and what recourse the students have had on the matter.

This coupled with lack of funding and an organized internship/apprenticeship programme for new engineering graduates have stunted the transition of graduate engineers to registered engineers.

The need for registered engineers cannot be overemphasized for an economy like Kenya. The road sector, for example, will be rolling out road network of up to 10,000Km in the next 5 years and there will be even greater need for registered engineers. The Government wants to put up to 500,000 housing units by 2022 and engineers will be needed. The Standard gauge Railway phase one has been completed and phase 2 is on the way.

The number of engineers out of our universities and those qualifying for licensing may not be sufficient for the Kenya economy. Between 2008 and 2010, UNESCO conducted a survey for sub Saharan countries to comparative figures of engineers for various competency schemes as follows:

 

UNIVERSITY GRADUATION STUDY AREAS IN AFRICA AND KENYA (2008-2010)

  Education, humanities and arts Social sciences, business and law Science Engineering, manufacturing and construction Agriculture Health and welfare Services Other
Sub-Saharan Africa 26% 44% 12% (3% ICT) 4% 2% 5% 0% 7%

 

 

Kenya   40%.            28%.            7%      5%.                     3%              5%       1%     5%

 Source: AEO data, UNESCO

From this study, it shows that graduands in engineering account for only 4% of graduates out of Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The comparison with other parts of the developing world for the same period is as shown below.

 NOTE:

  1. The available data is 2 Universities: University of Nairobi/ Maseno University
  2. The percentages are only indicative-mechanical/ construction.

 UNIVERSITY GRADUATION RATES IN AFRICA AND THE WORLD (2008-2010)

  Education, humanities and arts Social sciences, business and law Science Engineering, manufacturing and construction Agriculture Health and welfare Services Other
Sub-Saharan Africa 26% 44% 12% (3% ICT) 4% 2% 5% 0% 7%
North Africa 22% 51% 8% (1% ICT) 10% 1% 6% 1% 1%
Asia 23% 30% 6% 20% 4% 9% 4% 4%
Latin America 23% 38% 7% 9% 2% 13% 3% 5%
OECD 25% 37% 10% (3% ICT) 11% 2% 11% 4% 1%

 

Kenya           46%                       28%                     7%            5%                                    3%                 5%               1%          5%

Source: AEO data, UNESCO/ CBS

WHO IS TAKING KENYA ENGINEERING JOBS?

  1. Kenya has been very aggressive in developing new roads. However, all or most of them are being done by chines companies. These companies are importing Engineers from China. In fact, they import most of everything from china except what cannot be imported like Sand and Cement.
  2. The Standard newspaper July 15th 2018 reported that the Standard Gauge Railway is being powered by an army of 5,000 Chinese nationals. Among this massive workforce are civil and structural engineers, accountants, dieticians, cooks, self-taught locomotive operators as well as welders and carpenters.
  3. The Housing construction boom is not yet structured so we do not know how the workforce will look like. Most likely it will also be more Chinese than not.

So where do our Engineers get jobs?

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