Collaborate With Industry to Offer Practical Solutions – VC Urges Varsities

There is need for universities to collaborate with the industry more closely to offer practical training in the field of engineering.

This was said by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Francis Aduol when he presided over the opening of a three-day Higher Education Partnership for Sub-Saharan Africa (HEPSSA) workshop at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Nairobi.

The workshop was organised by Moi University in partnership with the Technical University of Kenya and The Royal Academy of Engineering, UK.

Prof. Aduol said, “I am pleased that we are gathered here today to discuss collaboration between the industry and universities offering engineering programmes.”
Professor Aduol noted that most universities ground their students in theory at the expense of practical training, leaving them as mere lame ducks. To address the gap, the VC called for universities to strike a balance between scientific and practical training of students.

 The VC explained that Kenya has a huge shortage of engineers yet the country aspires to attain the Vision 2030. “Currently, we have a ratio of 2,500 Kenyans against one engineer instead of the required one engineer against 200 Kenyans. What is funny is that our engineering graduates are jobless amidst shortage of engineers and yet the industry tells us they want engineers,” said Prof. Aduol.

The Professor warned that although engineering programmes remain popular among students, they are bound to discover that there is no reason to pursue them when they cannot get jobs in the industry.

“If we don’t do something to avert the current trend of theoretical training of engineers, it’s just a matter of time and we shall start losing engineering students to religion and history because they won’t find value in our programmes,” he cautioned.

Dr. Joseph Kiplagat, the Director for Research in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, who delivered a keynote address, concurred with Prof. Aduol, reiterating that there was need to ensure that skills in the academia are best suited for the industry.

“Africa has to be industrialised and something has to be done. The solution is with the academia-industry linkage and partnerships. This is key for Kenya to develop a knowledge-based economy,” said Dr. Kiplagat.

Moi University Dean School of Engineering, Prof. Eng. Simiyu Sitati, said it is a bonus for a cademia to link with the industry since it will address challenges of youth unemployment among other things.

The Royal Academy of Engineering UK, advertised a bid for the HEPSSA project to which Prof. Sitati was the lead applicant, supported by professors John Githaiga and Zachary Siagi, both from Moi University.

 “What we are doing in the project is to attach members of academia to the industry for a specified period like one month and also invite members of the industry to be attached to Moi University for about one month,” said Prof. Sitati explaining that the attachees will disseminate their experiences in workshops.

Among the institutions that participated included; The Technical University of Kenya, the Royal Academy of Engineering UK, Makerere University, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Busitema University, Uganda Martyrs University, University of Highlands and Islands and University of Eldoret.

Others were Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Technical University of Mombasa, Rivatex East Africa Limited, KVDA and Konza City.

The HEPSSA project winds up in September.