When the lists of students who were going to be on government sponsorship were out and Richard Kakooza found his name under Bachelor of Arts with Education at Kyambogo University, he was not excited about the offer. His family though, was very excited. They saw this as an opportunity to spare some millions of shillings for the three years Kakooza was going to spend at university.
To him, though, studying Education was not his preference. There was a reason he had given it a second choice while filling out the forms.
“My parents could not hear of me forgoing a government scholarship for an accounting degree at Makerere University Business School, which I preferred. So, I studied the Education course and graduated in 2010. But all this while, I promised myself that I would go for a career of my passion,” he recounts.
Though Kakooza went on to teach (Economics and Entrepreneurship at Standard High School, Zzana) for about five years, his admiration for accounting never stopped. He wanted to return to school and study a course of his preferance.
“Of course I had fears about whether I could manage to sponsor myself through school, worries about my job security when I start school. But in 2016, I applied. I graduated in January,” Kakooza said adding that to him, it was the desire to pursue what he had always been passionate about, and start a different career path.
To Harriet Mulindwa, the decision to pursue a second masters was because an opportunity had opened up.
“I am primarily an Information Communication and Technology person. I studied a Diploma in Computer Studies and then a degree and Masters in ICT. But I also love teaching and before I started my own pre-school, I taught ICT at National Teacher’s College, Ngetta. However, I developed love for children and for about three years worked as a research assistant to an American professor who was doing his research on children,” Mulindwa shares.
But she desired to go for further studies in childhood development. She was lucky to get a scholarship for a masters at the University of British Columbia. “When there are opportunities at your disposal, you take advantage of them. That is how I ended up with two masters’ degrees,” she says.
The workplace today requires a multi-skilled labour force, Arnold Mukwategye, a human capital consultant at Alternate Consults, shares.
He says an employee may get a second degree because they want to diversify their skills, and in turn broaden their opportunities in the workplace.
“An employer in the hospitality industry is likely to hire someone who for example has a degree in Social Work and Social Administration as well as a degree in Tourism because such a person is seen as having a wide range of skills in people management,” Mukwategye says, advising that if one can have that extra diploma, degree or Masters, it may come in handy in making you multi-skilled.
“On the other hand, I have seen people get a second degree because their employer demands that they do; especially those in public service. Internally or externally, there are job positions one may never be able to occupy, regardless of whether they have the skills but without the supporting documents. In such a case, an employee may go back to school to gain those credentials to be able to compete for that position,” says Mukwategye.
We live in a changing world and most careers are also changing. “New opportunities are coming up and thus new disciplines in the academia to meet those changes. In Uganda, one of those fields is oil and gas. Years ago, for example, universities did not have oil and gas courses because the need was not there, but with the discovery of oil in Uganda, now there is need and some of the people who have studied that degree are those who already have degrees in other disciplines,” Ahmed Kasule, a lecturer at the Islamic University in Uganda, shares.
Kasule also says sometimes, universities do not have a lot of options in terms of upgrading or acquiring new competencies for those who may be interested. “You may for example have a degree in a given discipline, and you probably want to gain specific competences and skills in an area related to that discipline, but the university has no masters’ programme for that specific area, but rather, another bachelor’s programme. This may force one to have two degrees and the same goes at masters’ level,” he says.