Career awareness for grade nine learners with regard to engineering trade career choices at previously disadvantaged academic schools
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Currently in South Africa most learners attend academic schools that offer general subjects such as History, Geography, Biology, Accountancy and so on. There are considerably fewer technical schools that can absorb those individuals who want to pursue an engineering trade career path. Academic schools are not equipped to provide for learners who want to pursue engineering trade careers. These learners either fall by the wayside by leaving school prematurely, or they continue at the school through to matric with subjects that are not linked to engineering careers. This study attempts to determine the knowledge, understanding, attitude and perception of the learners, parents, educators, principal, and the WCED with regard to this problem. It is intended through this study to make recommendations that will lead to meaningful interventions in an attempt to rectify the current situation. The findings indicate that learners do not have an understanding of engineering careers and are more inclined to choose the more traditional careers such as teacher, doctor, lawyer, nurse etc. Because their career options are limited, many learners are unsure of what careers to choose while others end up choosing careers that are not suited for them. The parents are not knowledgeable enough and do not possess the necessary skills to assist their children with their career choices. Teachers at academic schools themselves had an academic education. As a result they are not aware of engineering careers and are not empowered to advise the learners. The principal, who is also an academic, has to consider the implication of making learners aware of engineering careers, because this could lead to an exodus of students from the school. He is under pressure from the WCED to maintain the required teacher - student ratios. The findings indicate that the WCED has initiated various programs around careers, but nothing specific with regard to career awareness. It is evident that these programs have not filtered through to this school. The methodology for this research incorporated a multi-method approach with both quantitative and qualitative instruments used. Questionnaires were directed at learners, educators and the parents. Focus group sessions were conducted with the learners and educators and interviews were directed at the principal and the WCED official. The study concludes with recommendations drawn from international models.