The Cloud of Ambivalence
The thought of pursuing a five-year mining engineering degree course and securing a rewarding job to take care of daily bills, setting the graduate on an upward trajectory of professional and economic empowerment, hardly evades any young person’s horizon of imagination as you share on career development and good life. This dream is, however, yet to be achieved. Should youth and future graduates continue living in a state of despair? How can they cope beyond the fleeting joy of graduating with top-rated academic qualifications?
The Calamity of Agonising Post-Graduation Experience
Mining engineering graduates in Kenya have hardly found any soft landing in the job market. This is due to the limited opportunities in the nascent mining sector, still largely at the exploratory stage. Kenya’s Vision 2030 views the mining sector as a strategic economic sector for national development, so does Africa’s Mining Vision. That is where the paradox starts, but not where it ends. The Founder of Impact Borderless Digital (IBD), a youth mentor and thought leader who doubled as a supervisor for my BSc project, has summed it all up from a continental perspective: “Africa’s mining sector has for too long painted the portrait of paradoxes, better known for the vices of land dispossession, destitution, death, and deformity – than for the aspirational virtue of inclusive economic empowerment.” (The African Executive, February 5, 2019).
This challenging scenario has left many with reasons, perhaps, to doubt the degree courses they took; many are jobless, others resorting to gig businesses, agriculture, or any activity to earn a living, at variance with their aspirational career choices.
Hope on the Horizon
Using the example of mining, again, the new reality drawing life from open-minded curiosity on the shoulders of a mentor has expanded my horizon of possibilities. The scope of mining is wide. Based on advice from good mentorship, some graduates, like me, have found a way through immersing self in the competitive domains such as engineering and mine surveying, geology, GIS, geotechnical engineering, laboratory work, just to mention a few. This gives us a mirror of exactly what higher learning institutions of learning and the government should stress: practical oriented, research-based, and competency-based curriculum development to equip learners with market-ready skills as the currency for borderless navigation through the unforgiving and dynamic labour market. Through this approach, young graduates will have a cutting edge in impacting the society and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The future of higher education demands adaptive resilience, as the mentorship series under IBD has been stressing. Diligently going beyond the classical taught units to pursue practical applications in a multidisciplinary setting is a coping strategy. Therefore, I am super excited about the upcoming survey that will ask Kenyan youth to volunteer their experiences and recommend how to address the growing problem of youth unemployment in Africa. This writing is just the beginning of my contribution to this important exercise, not its end.
By Kevin Sang
A young graduate of BSc. in Mining and Mineral Processing Engineering from Taita Taveta University and a beneficiary of IBD mentorship series.
Engineering Surveyor at China Ghezouba Group Company (CGCC) Thwake multipurpose water dam project, Kenya, since 2019.
This is the product of more than a decade of dedicated experience in research, skills development, training, and mentorship. Through mentorship and career development fora, IBD empowers youth with the knowledge, international exposure, and digital fluency they need to be emancipated global citizens with borderless influence for sustainable development.