Skills and Competences


What am I to do with these useless qualifications?

Q. Studying in an era where there was no mentorship, I ended studying for a diploma in chemical engineering and later did a degree in chemistry.

Growing in my career with these papers has been a challenge, mostly because one can only be employed as a technician – chemical engineering is not clearly understood in this country.

As it is, l am competing with colleagues who have qualified in electrical or mechanical engineering. What should l do to get ahead?


HR responds…

Do not belittle your qualifications. You have gone ahead and complimented your diploma with a bachelor of science in chemistry, not chemical engineering as you put it – which still strengthens your technical knowledge and enhances your competitiveness in different ways.

I am not clear if you are comparing your two qualifications in reference to career growth as a technician or engineer. In my understanding, although these two qualifications may complement each, they do not make you a chemical engineer, and if you are competing with engineers, their qualifications will stand out despite the area of specialisation.

As a technician, you have various career opportunities – analytical chemist, energy manager, production manager, materials manager – all critical and highly specialised roles in any manufacturing set up. It is possible that this career is not well understood locally, but the manufacturing industry in Kenya is very diverse, from small scale consumer goods manufacturers to agriculture, horticulture, oil, steel and cement.

In such industries, your skills will be quite distinct from those of an electrical or mechanical engineer. On the other hand, your BSc in chemistry is also suitable for careers such as a healthcare scientist, clinical biochemistry, forensic scientist, pharmacologist, research scientist and toxicologist. My advice is that you widen your search and diversify from roles where other engineers may have an edge.

You could also go back to college and study chemical engineering to become more competitive.

All roles require other competencies besides technical knowledge. In addition to experience, you need to possess problem-solving, analytical, presentation and good communication skills.

Mwikali Muthiani

Managing Partner,



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