Multiple roles, multiple perspectives: Graduates and manufacturing SMEs

Gallagher, Padraig and Stephens, Simon (2020) Multiple roles, multiple perspectives: Graduates and manufacturing SMEs. Industry and Higher Education, 34 (1). pp. 3-12. ISSN 0950-4222


This article explores the workplace experience of seven science, engineering and technology graduates. The research design and methodology used in the study are exploratory, in-depth and qualitative in nature. The case study companies are located in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and employ the graduates under the FUSION project. The case study method is among a number of research techniques that has been used in a business setting to improve practice. The literature indicates that graduates need a broad range of knowledge and skills and personal attributes to operate in the workplace, including general and specific knowledge of the industry, discipline-based knowledge, technical competency, commercial awareness and management skills and key personal attributes and skills. The experience of the graduates is explored from three perspectives: the graduate, the academic and the workplace supervisor. The findings indicate that graduates undertake four key roles: technologist, project manager, team worker and graduate. Furthermore, their main responsibilities relate to knowledge of the industry, discipline knowledge, management skills and personal attributes. This article confirms the need for industry and higher education to develop and promote the workplace as a learning environment and to support graduates as they transition into the workplace.

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