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Framework to enhance engineering undergraduates entrepreneurial education towards sustainability of employment in South Africa
Nnadoziem, Ndukuba Samuel
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The study investigates the factors relevant to the enhancement of engineering undergraduates’ entrepreneurial education aimed at sustainability of employment in South Africa. The research utilised a mixed methodological approach, at it involves the use of semi-structured qualitative interviews and closed-ended quantitative questionnaires, both of which were administered to engineering students (chemical engineering, civil engineering, construction management and quantity surveying, electrical, electronic and computer engineering, industrial and system engineering and mechanical engineering) in two selected universities in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The quantitative data generated from the questionnaires was analysed using SPSS Version 25 software, while the ‘content analysis’ method was used to analyse the information generated through the qualitative interviews. Based on the findings obtained in this study, various significant factors that can enhance entrepreneurial interest of undergraduate students are grouped: as perceptions, attitudes, knowledge, personality traits, education and training, entrepreneur’s innovativeness, access to business information services, access to finance, technology, and government policy. However, lack of appropriate technical and life skills, among other factors, contributes to poor ability of graduates to establish their own businesses after graduation. Predictably, findings also indicate that innovativeness enhances entrepreneurship positively. There is a need for an emphasis on innovativeness in educational syllabi in HE schooling. Additionally, access to business information services is an area that requires more attention from the government, since higher education graduates in South Africa are often handicapped by a lack of adequate business support services and poor information technology infrastructure. Lack of access to credit is another common problem for graduates trying to start their own businesses. In addition, findings revealed that the majority of students had significant entrepreneurial interest and attributes, wanting to start their own business within one year of graduation. The majority of respondents indicated that the course delivery should be practical and be learnt through business activities or application of practical cases instead of learning about business in a strictly theoretical fashion. Furthermore, to strengthen the delivery of the curriculum, it is recommended that the content, teaching approaches, assessment, etc., be better adjusted to the original interest of entrepreneurship education. A tracing system is recommended in order to follow students’ progress over three successive years from their graduation.