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Chileshe, N and Haupt, T C (2010) An empirical analysis of factors impacting career decisions in South African construction industry: Male and female high school students' perspectives. Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, 8(02), 221–39.

  • Type: Journal Article
  • Keywords: careers; decision making; gender; secondary education; South Africa
  • ISBN/ISSN: 1726-0531
  • URL: https://doi.org/10.1108/17260531011062573
  • Abstract:
    Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the perception of high school students on the factors impacting their career decisions and whether gender and grade have an influence on the decision-making process. Design/methodology/approach Literature review was used to identify relevant factors which were incorporated into the design of the survey instrument. The questionnaire was administered via a postal survey and information collected from 599 male and 491 female high school students in the Western Cape Province. Survey response data were subjected to descriptive statistics and subsequently parametric tests. Findings Salary, working conditions, opportunities for promotion and lifelong learning were reported by both male and female students as the most important factors, whereas family tradition and peers were the least important factors according to the male and female high school students, respectively. Grade had a significant impact on the process with students in Grade 11 scoring higher on salary, working conditions and lifelong learning opportunities whereas Grades 12 and 10 scored higher on skills shortage and family tradition, respectively. Research limitations/implications The cross-sectional data made it difficult to generalise the findings. Practical implications The findings are of particular importance to high school teachers and guidance counsellors who influence career choices amongst high school students. It is likely that teachers and counsellors themselves have been negatively influenced by the poor image of the construction industry. The identification of factors enables the development of viable strategies and balances the social dynamics of the male dominated environment. Originality/value There are few studies which try to investigate the career decision-making process of high school students in an African environment. These results challenge the factors impacting career decision making among South African high school students and provide information rarely examined. Conclusively, the paper finds that control variables such as grade and gender are significant in the career decision-making process of high school students. This paper contributes to bridging that gap.