Professional skills needed by our graduates
Accreditation agencies have outlined professional skills that should be possessed by engineering graduates. The question this paper addresses is “What professional skills do our recent graduates actually use and value as being important?” Young engineering professionals, as well as professionals in many different professions, were asked to identify the importance and frequency of use of 23 “professional skills.” The results were that the top skills of importance and frequency of use were verbal communication, written communication, time management, problem solving, decision making, teamwork, critical thinking, self-confidence, initiative, building trust, and stress management. Those that were important and used weekly to occasionally in three months were social awareness and management of relationships, self-awareness and management of emotions, leadership, lifelong learning, analysis (classification, series and patterns, and consistency), self-assessment, empathy, creativity, intercultural understanding, research, change management of self and others, and chairing meetings (being a chairperson). For the sample of 33 who graduated with engineering degrees, their results showed little difference from the total group of 104 respondees. Some suggestions are given about what we can do in the classroom to help our students gain these skills.