Sleuthing the Occupational Outcomes of Engineering Graduates

The PEW research group is very pleased to be working with ILead, the Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering at the University of Toronto in a joint project investigating the career pathways of engineering graduates. ILead offers curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities that help aspiring engineers to become great team leaders and project managers. Many ILead program participants may be encountering professional working environments for the first time. What are their expectations of the workplace? And what kinds of jobs should the field of engineering be preparing its graduates for?

Helping to answer these questions is where the Pathways to Education and Work team comes in. A PEW project researching Canadian educational and occupational pathways[1] includes focused investigation into how workers and employers understand and use credentials for entry and advancement in different occupational fields. Fields vary in the kinds of entry credentials they require, and the kinds of opportunities that further education affords those who are already working in the field. What can these variations tell us about how to best link education and work? This is a central research question for the PEW team.

PEW and ILead will be working together to examine the post-graduate pathways of undergraduate engineering degree holders. Engineering has a very well established program of professional licensure. Engineering graduates from accredited Canadian programs can be assured that they are eligible to pursue this license without the need to write any technical exams. However, the P.Eng. (Professional Engineer) designation, in addition to a law and ethics exam, critically requires valid Canadian work experience under the supervision of a P.Eng. Many engineers are not obtaining licenses, and many are working on jobs that do not require them to obtain a license. Whether these dynamics are by choice or by necessity are among the questions we’ll be investigating.

For ILead, the project is an opportunity to leverage Statistics Canada’s National Graduate Survey data to inform the future development of engineering curricula and co-curricula. As ILead Assistant Director, Community of Practice, Mike Klassen observes, “if the jobs that engineers are doing are changing, we need to be thinking about and maybe re-thinking how their education prepares them for those jobs.” For the PEW team, this project is a great opportunity to gain insight into one of the occupational fields we’ll be investigating more closely in 2017.

[1] Qualifications: The Link Between Educational and Occupational Pathways and Labour Market Outcomes is funded by SSHRC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


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