There is an increasing demand for engineering talent from a growing and developing global population. Engineers are in demand because they have instigated technological developments that have contributed to the creation of our modern society. Talented engineers are needed to devise solutions for modern day technological challenges such as new sustainable energy resources, more efficient use of materials and the recovery of materials from waste. These professionals play a pivotal role in developing countries in particular.
While there is a growing need for multi-talented engineers, the number of young engineers entering the market is decreasing. Moreover, many engineers are leaving the profession. Factors contributing to engineers leaving the technical environment include lack of adaptability skills, lack of continuing professional development opportunities, insufficient career paths, under-utilisation of engineers and under-qualified engineering staff (Du Toit & Roodt, 2009).
Engineering graduates are generally well prepared with regards to engineering theory and fundamentals. However, due to the demands of engineering curricula, engineering students do not have much time to consider other factors that could influence their future lives and career direction (Millar, 2011). Engineering students often have an underdeveloped sense of personal knowledge and insight to enable them to commit to live certain decisions. According to Millar (2011) a career of purpose, fulfilment and financial success in engineering is gained by (1) knowing oneself and the fact that one is in charge of one’s life and future, (2) being aware that soft skills (communication skills, leadership skills, capacity to work in teams and to plan ahead) are needed to support technical skills, and (3) that every person is a salesman of him/herself and his or her product. The purpose of my study is to develop the sense of self of a young engineer to enable him to manage his future career path effectively and meaningfully. Research questions that will be explored are the essential aspects of a narrative approach, including what the sense of self of a young engineer entails and the possible influence of a narrative approach on the sense of self of a young engineer.
A case study design is utilised. The focus will be on narrative techniques to develop the sense of self of a young engineering graduate in a new working environment.
A multiple method approach will be implemented to collect and analyse data. Priority will be given to qualitative approaches (in other words, a QUALITATIVE-quantitative approach will be used). The following standardised questionnaires will be utilised: Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) (Briggs and Briggs Myers, 1994), Self-Directed Search (SDS) (Gevers, Du Toit & Harilall, 1995), Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) (Bar-On, 2004), as well as the Career Adapt-Adaptabilities Inventory (CAAS) (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012). Qualitative methods that will be used are: Career-genogram, Collage, Career Interest Profile (CIP) (Maree, 2010), Life Chapters (Cochran, 1997), Career Construction Interview (CCI) (Hartung, 2011), informal interviews and reflective feedback notes. Inductive data analysis will be used to analyse and interpret the data.
I hope to make recommendations that will enhance the sense of self of an engineering student who seeks the advice of a career counsellor. Ultimately, my aim is to contribute meaningfully to this client’s decision-making career, self-construction and life designing.