Generic skills of future built environment practitioners in South Africa: unexplored mechanism via students’ perception

Andrew Ebekozien, Clinton Ohis Aigbavboa, John Aliu, Wellington Didibhuku Thwala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Researchers and policymakers have given attention to generic skills development in higher institutions. One of the intentions is to broaden graduate employability with generic skills. In South Africa, there is a paucity of research concerning future built environment practitioners’ (FBEP) generic skills development from the students’ perspective. Thus, this paper aims to investigate South Africa’s FBEP generic skills and suggest feasible solutions to improve FBEP generic skills from the students’ perception. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers collated the views of FBEP via a phenomenology type of qualitative research design. It covered selected South African public universities and investigated the discourses that underpin “perceived hindrance” in developing generic skills for FBEP. Selected 30 FBEP were engaged in the virtual interviews across three public universities. Data saturation was achieved. Three themes emerged and were analysed through a thematic analysis. Findings: Findings show that FBEP generic skills development will enhance integrated productivity and higher value for money in construction project delivery. But developing these skills demands a holistic approach. Findings have raised concern with the perceived hindrances facing FBEP in developing generic skills. Findings suggest the need to revisit and revamp the curricula to develop these skills and strengthen policies that will “nip” possible hindrances. Research limitations/implications: This study was limited to South Africa’s FBEP generic skills from students’ perception. In line with the limited resources, three public universities were covered from the selected provinces in South Africa. Future research with a more diverse sample is needed to ensure a better representative and generalisation of findings. Practical implications: Findings show that apart from academic knowledge system thinking skills, civic responsibility skills and critical thinking skills are germane for intending construction industry professionals. Others are integrated teamwork skills, good attitude and communication skills, entrepreneurship skills and resources management skills. Findings from this paper may stir up the education sector’s stakeholders to revamp the curricula in enhancing these skills among students from the basic to higher institutions. The outcome will improve productivity in the construction industry. Originality/value: Although few scholars have discussed generic skills in the built environment, there are limited studies from the students’ context in developing countries, a South Africa case study, a gap this research aims to fill. Also, it proffers ways to mitigate perceived hindrances facing FBEP in developing generic skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-577
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2024


  • Future built environment practitioners (FBEP)
  • Generic skills
  • Higher institutions
  • Hindrances
  • South Africa
  • Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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