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Early-career expectations and retention factors of generation Y engineers

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dc.contributor.advisor Dr Linda Fourie en_US
dc.contributor.author Vieira, Julie-Ann
dc.date.accessioned 2012-06-05T12:11:03Z
dc.date.available 2012-06-05T12:11:03Z
dc.date.issued 2012-06-05
dc.date.submitted 2011-05-24
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/4911
dc.description M.A. en_US
dc.description.abstract Orientation: Skills shortages, particularly in the engineering field, have resulted in organisations searching for effective retention programs. With the widespread change in the composition of workforces, some researchers have suggested that programs be specifically designed to address the career expectations of different generational groups as this may enhance retention. Research purpose: Although much research on generational cohort theory exists, much of it is contained in popular media as opposed to academic literature. Further, there is a lack of academic research linking work expectations to specific retention factors for different generational cohorts of workers, particularly Generation Y. This research aimed to establish what the career expectations and retention factors of Generation Y engineers in the organisational entry and early phases of their careers are. Motivation for the study: In South Africa, engineering is the profession that experiences the most difficulties in filling vacancies; a situation which emphasises the need to retain our engineers. In order to retain these engineers effectively, it has been suggested that tailor-made retention programs be implemented for different generations. Some researchers have however expressed that employees that are currently entering the workplace have distinctly different characteristics to earlier generations. The primary motivation for the research study was to establish the career expectations and retention factors of engineering graduates within the research setting. As a secondary motivation, the research aimed to establish what differences exist between Generation Y and earlier generations, if any. Research design: An exploratory study from an interpretive perspective was designed whereby the responses from 22 participants, obtained during one-onone in-depth interviews, were thematically analysed to derive an understanding of the value that participants placed on career expectations prior to entering the world of work and the retention factors subsequent to entering the world of work. A focus group with three participants, who were part of the initial interviewing v process, was then facilitated to explore the first order themes uncovered in the initial interviews. Main findings: Results show that, engineers, believed to part of Generation Y, value gaining engineering experience, ideally practical experience on actual engineering sites; learning, mentorship, involvement in engineering design, training and development, work-life balance, and the ability to manage their own career development. Although there were some similarities between career expectations and retention factors of engineering graduates in the organisation entry and early phase of their careers with reported characteristics of Generation Y, the research findings are not overwhelming to safely conclude that generational differences impact the turnover and retention of engineers. Practical/Managerial implications: Participants expressed the critical importance of a structured graduate development program that allowed for growth and development particularly through mentorship and the gaining of engineering experience. A program that is aligned to an overall graduate policy which depicts clear lines of management responsibility and levels of engagement for its operation in order to satisfy and meet graduates’ career expectations could enhance retention. Further, a program whereby graduates are afforded the opportunity to gain work experience on projects on site could also enhance retention significantly. Induction and on-boarding programs that specifically facilitate an understanding of the business as well as specific engineering practices could also enhance retention. Ensuring that engineering graduates are allocated work with elements of engineering design was deemed to be a critical factor for the retention of engineering graduates. Contribution and value add: Engineering consulting organisations who wish to retain their engineering graduates for longer periods of time may find this research of particular interest as it highlights what engineering graduates in the organisational entry and early career phase of their careers generally expect from the world of work prior to entering the workforce as well as subsequent retention factors after joining the world of work. These findings could be of interest to South African engineering consulting organisations, given the current scarcity of technical human resources, as vi it may provide insight, and in so doing, assist them in planning programs to address the problem of retaining engineers in our country. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Engineers en_US
dc.subject Engineering graduates en_US
dc.subject Career expectations en_US
dc.subject Job satisfaction en_US
dc.subject Generation Y en_US
dc.subject Employee retention en_US
dc.title Early-career expectations and retention factors of generation Y engineers en_US
dc.type Mini-Dissertation en_US

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