Scarce-skilled undergraduate students' perceptions of future employment and mobility within the South African context
This study focused on scarce-skilled undergraduate students’ perception of future employment and employment conditions within the labour market; and the push and pull factors that had a contributing influence on their opinions and perceptions when it came to mobility, be it either national or international. Little attention has been given to unemployment among graduates and even less on scarce-skilled graduates. This study focuses on the perceptions and opinions of scarce-skilled undergraduates in the fields engineering (electrical, mechanical and civil), chartered accounting, actuarial sciences and pharmacology. It was indicated that unemployment was not the issue among the participants, because as Barker (2007) indicated, those with a higher education are less likely to find themselves unemployed. In the first article, there are countering factors such as the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act 53 of 2003; Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 and technological advancements that they felt could threaten their employment options in the future. Disregarding unemployment, the participants also indicated that they felt there were several factors that could influence employment conditions, such as work-life balance, wages, geographical area, economic growth, human resource development, training in organisations and lastly recruitment. In the second article, the focus was on how much the indicated push and pull factors had an influence on the perceptions and opinions of the participants and whether they would consider spending their skills in South Africa and mobilise nationally or if they would spend their skills elsewhere and mobilise overseas. The indicated push factors were corruption, politics and unemployment, whereas the pull factors were family, people, culture and loyalty. The titles of the two articles were: Article 1: An exploration of scarce-skilled undergraduates’ perceptions of future employment within the South African labour market Article 2: An exploration of the identifiable push and pull factors that could influence scarce-skilled undergraduates’ perceptions of mobility in the labour market A qualitative, phenomenological approach will be used in this study and it will be based on multiple case studies in the interpretive case study design, with the use of ontology. Observations and interviews will be used to derive data from the target group. The research design allowed the researcher to interpret and measure data and explore all possible answers, in a non-subjective manner, leaving room for expression from the participants’ side and non-bias behaviour from the researcher. A combination of a purposive and snowball sample of 21 (N=21) scarce-skilled undergraduate participants was used for both articles. The sample group consisted of scarce-skilled undergraduates from different fields of study on the North-West University campus based in Potchefstroom, namely engineering (electrical, mechanical and civil), chartered accounting, actuarial sciences and pharmacology. The researcher made use of semi-structured, one-on-one interviews to collect data. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data in a six-phase plan created by Braun and Clarke (2006). In article 1, there were two categories in the findings, which were: Labour market effects: This category included three themes, namely: Labour laws influencing possible employment; task-oriented employment conditions and geographical employment conditions. The first theme had two sub-themes, namely the B-BBEEE Act 53 of 2003 and the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998. The second theme had two sub-themes, namely work-life balance and technological unemployment. The third theme had two sub-themes, namely preference and compensation and development. Economic impacts on the labour market: The second category had one theme, namely hypothetical systems and processes. The theme had two sub-themes, namely human resource development systems and recruitment processes and procedures. The results confirmed numerous findings and that unemployment among graduates was not the concerning matter, but rather that of the employment conditions within the South African labour market. In article 2, there were two categories: Mobility in and out of South Africa: The first category included three themes, namely mobility in South Africa, mobilising overseas temporarily and mobilising overseas permanently. The first theme covered one sub-theme, namely contentment. The second theme had two sub-themes, namely exploring and skills enhancement. The third theme had one sub-theme, namely spending skills abroad. Influential push and pull factors on mobility: The second category had two themes, namely push factors and pull factors. The first theme had three sub-themes, namely corruption, politics and unemployment. The second theme also had three sub-themes, namely family, culture and people, and loyalty. The results indicated that there were various findings and that the push and pull factors had a major impact on the perceptions of scarce-skilled graduates when they had an opinion on mobility. If the push factors impacted them more, then they would consider mobilising overseas, and if the pull factors were more important to them, then they would rather mobilise to a different geographical area in South Africa than mobilising overseas. Limitations were included concerning both of the research articles. Recommendations and practical implications were made for articles 1 and 2 to benefit researchers who use this study and its contents in the future.