Engineering Technicians and Technologists comprise an important part of the civil engineering industry. Technicians and technologists typically complete the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE) or Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BET) respectively. The Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) lists and describes occupation groups that graduates may fill and IPENZ provides a good general description of the competencies required of these graduates. However these sources do not go into the detail needed to properly align education with the skills and knowledge that technician and technologist graduates need in the first few years of their careers. There is also limited research that distinguishes between the variety of roles that technicians and technologists fulfil in the civil engineering industry and the activities that each role entails.
PURPOSE OR GOAL
The purpose of this research was to determine what roles NZDE and BET civil engineering graduates typically fulfil, what activities they undertake in the first few years after graduation and how the current curriculum could be improved to better enable graduates to transition from education to engineering practice.
An online survey was sent to all former students who had graduated from the Unitec NZDE (Civil) and BET (Civil) courses between 2010 and 2012. This survey included questions related to the industry and fields of engineering that they worked in, the activities they undertook and how well they thought Unitec had prepared them for industry. The survey information was analysed to determine more specific roles and to provide a profile of each role. It was found that these roles closely aligned with those developed in ANZSCO. A series of interviews with graduates followed to provide more detail on the roles and activities that the graduates undertook to develop a better understanding of the nature, associated activities and typical skills and knowledge development within each role.
The online survey found that most (61%) BET graduates work in the consultancy industry with the rest working in the construction industry (32%) or for the local Council (7%). In contrast the majority (71%) of NZDE graduates work in the construction industry while the rest work in the consulting industry. Most of the survey respondents seemed to fall into one of six roles namely Site Engineer, Draftsperson, Structural Engineer, Infrastructure Engineer, Laboratory Technician or Council Officer. Most of the survey respondents and interviewees were satisfied with the preparation for industry that the Unitec programs had provided but suggested some possible improvements.
Research was undertaken to determine the roles and activities of graduates from the Unitec BET and NZDE programs and to determine how well the Unitec programs aligned with the needs of these graduates. The programs appear to be providing the needs of the graduates but they could be improved with additional elective courses and a construction management specialisation in the BET program.
Technician, Technologist, Graduate, Roles