An investigation of industry expectations of industrial engineering graduates: A case study of graduate development programmes in South African universities

Willy Kiprotich Ngetich, CM Moll


During 2008 and 2009, post-apartheid South Africa and the global community experienced major economic turbulence, bringing into focus the need for skills development across the major South African economic sectors to resuscitate its failing economy. The solutions lay in organisations re-evaluating their current operational strategies by streamlining their organisations, and adopting aggressive, lean, and cost-saving approaches to remain competitive. The study introduced the need to address this issue by exploring the environments that play a role in the quality of life in South Africa. A qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis approach was used to establish the skills gap between the business market and training institutes, in an effort to alleviate the negative effects of the current state of the economy. The need for skills growth and for cost-cutting, cost-saving, and an optimisation skill a skill descriptively and applicably seen in industrial engineering is apparent. The role of graduate institutions in facilitating the growth of human capital development in the work environment has become a critical factor in South Africa, aimed at improving the productivity and economic growth of the country. In this paper, the focus is on three main areas of discussion: the institutional environment of students; exploring the student-lecturer relationship; and the work environment. The study highlights the influence these three environments have on industrial engineering skills and competencies attained by industrial engineering university student graduates, and how this ultimately creates a way for the South African economy to grow.


Industry expectations; industrial engineering graduates; skills level; quality improvement; graduate development programmes; South African universities; employability

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