Into the real world, but where to from here?: Research from recent New Zealand engineering professionals about career management and development and overseas experience ("OE") intentions
New Zealand’s engineering industry currently faces a critical shortage of skilled engineers. Exacerbating this problem, engineering firms in New Zealand suffer high turnover rates among engineers in the first phase of their careers.
To address the turnover problem, this study used an online questionnaire that explored the career management behaviours and future career intentions of early consulting engineering professionals in New Zealand (n = 65 from a 75% response rate). Findings showed that engineering early professionals preferred a partnership approach with their organisation with regard to their career management.
Respondents also reported a strong desire to embark on an ‘Overseas Experience’ (OE) and that before departing on their OE, they would value a discussion with their organisation about the possibility of re-employment when they return to New Zealand. Finally, there was a concerning number of respondents that indicated they may not remain in the engineering industry upon return from their OE.
These findings provide a starting point for firms to anticipate and respond to important decision points for early engineering professionals. From these findings, the paper provides a preliminary set of recommendations for firms to address the high rate of turnover they face. It also provides statements regarding the limitations of the research and suggestions for these limitations and recommendations to be addressed in subsequent research efforts.