Graduate engineers are often thrown in at the deep end when they start a career in the construction industry and they may be expected to manage a team of workers almost from the day they start. This could be a problem because of a lack of management education in their undergraduate degrees, compounded by the fact that there are few structured development programmes they can follow. In many cases, engineers from a mostly technical background are promoted into project management positions without any formal development or structured training in team or project management. One of the biggest effects of this is the poor management of construction projects.The study aimed to establish the most relevant project management competencies that graduate engineers in the construction industry need to be exposed to prior to leading large sections on a construction site. This aim was met by interviewing seven graduate engineers within two years after joining the construction industry, two human resources senior managers, and eight senior project managers, directors and managing directors of a large South African-based construction company. The data from the interviews were combined with data from a literature review to design questionnaires, which were distributed, and more data were obtained from 29 graduate engineers, 16 human resources professionals, and 42 senior project managers, directors and managing directors.The study identified seven competencies deemed the most important ones to be developed in graduate engineers – no significant difference in opinion on these competencies were found between the various respondent groups. The study also identified six methods that would be well suited to develop these, but found a significant difference in the opinions of the different respondent groups on which methods would be best suited. It seems that one of the main differences between the views held by the graduate engineers and those held by the more senior personnel is their opinion about physically working on a construction site and gaining experience in that way, as opposed to receiving formal training early on in their careers.