Research Papers

Document Type

Conference Paper


The implementation of interconnected digital and cyber-physical technologies across engineering fields is changing the nature of professional work. These new forms of work present both technical and social challenges; it is therefore timely to consider the implications of the digital transformation of work for engineering education. In this study the focus is on the technical and social skills that employers have identified as desirable for productive work practices in digital/cyber-physical environments. The research question guiding the study is: What technical and social skills do employers in digitised/cyber-physical workplaces value in engineering graduates? The study drew on Legitimation Code Theory’s Specialization dimension to reveal the underpinning principles of how technical and social skills are integrated in digital environments. Structured interviews with employers were analysed to categorise the technical and social skills that were highly regarded in environments that had implemented digital and related technologies. The study identified three levels of socio-technical integration valued by employers, namely: 1) enthusiasm for, and appreciation of, the role of digital and related technologies in addressing engineering and societal challenges; 2) teamwork and/or client support in digitised environments; and 3) interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaboration for digital and related technological innovation. The study identified an emerging shift from a skills discourse that assumes a separation between technical and social skills towards one that captures the dynamics of socio-technical integration in digitised and related technological practice.


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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.