Title page for ETD etd-08182011-154256

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Tshabalala, Thandeka Lenah
Email thandekatshabalala@yahoo.co.uk
URN etd-08182011-154256
Document Title Perceptions regarding employment prospects among final year students at a South African university
Degree Master of Arts
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Prof P M Chiroro Supervisor
  • final year students
  • employment prospects
  • South African university
Date 2011-04-18
Availability restricted
This study investigated university students’ perceptions regarding their employment prospects. The sample consisted of 136 black and 111 white, male and female final year students, from a South African university, who were about to complete their under graduate degrees in Chemical Engineering (N =92), Accounting(N =220) and Psychology (N =182). This study also investigated the extent to which differences exist regarding perceptions of employment prospects among beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of the South African government’s affirmative action policies.

Perceptions were measured by a self-report questionnaire consisting of closed questions. The results showed that males attributed employment prospects to luck and educational qualifications more strongly than females. Psychology students, compared to the accounting and chemical engineering students, were more likely to believe that luck played an important role in determining their chances of employment. White students were less positive than black students regarding the role of qualifications in determining employment prospects.

Furthermore, as hypothesised, the results indicated that white students (non-beneficiaries of employment policies) tended to endorse the idea that existing affirmative action policies of the SA governments (an external factor) determine one’s chances of securing employment. . However, the results of the study showed that overall, white students endorsed the role of the job-seeker in determining employment prospects more strongly than black students. Compared to black students, white students expressed stronger feelings of hopelessness regarding their employment prospects.

Furthermore, as anticipated, white students (non-beneficiaries) from all three fields of study were less confident than black students (beneficiaries), that their degree would ensure employment. Multiple comparison tests also showed that psychology students tended to indicate a greater lack of confidence in their degree ensuring employment than accounting and chemical engineering students.

Psychology students were also less likely to agree with statements which suggested that it is the job seeker who determines his/her employment prospects. Among the chemical engineering students, blacks tended to endorse the efforts of the job seeker as an important determining factor of employment more strongly than their white counterparts. There were no significant differences in perceptions among participants regarding the importance of writing and sending a CV, registering with a job placement service, seeking help from friends and groups that one belongs to, seeking part time employment as well as conducting internet job searches.

It is concluded that differences regarding employment prospects among final year students can be accounted for by factors such as gender, field of study, race and whether or not one is a beneficiary of the SA government’s affirmative action employment policies. One of the recommendations of the study is that future research could employ a more in-depth approach to understanding final year students’ perceptions regarding employment prospects by utilising a mixed method approach. Such an approach will ensure that participants are afforded an opportunity to share more information about why they have particular perceptions regarding their employment prospects

© 2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Tshabalala, TL 2010, Perceptions regarding employment prospects among final year students at a South African university, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08182011-154256/ >


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