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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering RESEARCH RESULTS The following data and analysis are based on detailed surveys of approximately 3,000 engineers across the United States and on interviews of thought leaders in the field. The online survey was conducted in collaboration with the Statistics division of Applied Technology for Learning in the Arts and Sciences (ATLAS) at University of Illinois. The respondents represented different engineering fields, managerial levels, and ethnicities (Appendix E). MOTIVATION LIFELONG LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR Today’s engineers are eager for lifelong learning opportunities and for recogni- tion from their peers and employers for their learning. No one should doubt that there is a large and motivated population of engineers waiting to take advantage of an improved lifelong learning infrastructure. The survey probed the engineers’ motivations for lifelong learning. The results (FIGURE 1) indicate that career growth is the major motivation for lifelong learning and that engineers are also interested in learning to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Three additional findings are worth mentioning:  The reason for enrolling in lifelong learning programs (or why they are considered important) varies across the managerial hierarchy. Nonmanagerial engineers and mid-level managers consider career growth at their current workplace the key reason to pursue lifelong learning, top-level engineers consider it important for satisfying intellectual curiosity.  Engineers who considered their job secure ranked preparation for career growth beyond their current workplace as important as satisfying intellectual curiosity. Engineers who considered their job insecure, however, considered career growth beyond their current workplace more important than satisfying intellectual curiosity.  Although both male and female engineers considered career growth at their current workplace the most important factor for enrolling in a lifelong learning program, they differed in terms of career growth beyond their current workplace. Female engineers considered it as important as satisfying intellectual curiosity, whereas male engineers considered it more important. 6

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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering Motivation for lifelong learning 5 3.98 3.69 4 3.63 Mean rating 3.30 3 2 1 Career growth at Career growth Satisfying your Fulfilling your current beyond your intellectual government or workplace current workplace curiosity licensure law requirements FIGURE 1 Graph showing engineers’ motivation for lifelong learning based on 3,200 responses to the question: “In the future, how likely are you to enroll in a lifelong learning program for any of the following reasons?” (shown at the bottom of the figure). Respondents ranked each reason on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 = would definitely enroll and 1 = definitely would not enroll. BARRIERS LIFELONG LEARNING F O R I N D I V I D U AL S TO When we asked engineers to rate the most common personal barriers to their participation in lifelong learning, we got the results shown in FIGURE 2. The responses indicate that lack of time and finances are the primary obstacles for individuals considering lifelong learning, but it should be noted that lack of an appropriate program is also an important obstacle. FIGURE 2 Respondents (2,800) rated personal barriers to lifelong learning, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 = the biggest obstacle and 1 = not an obstacle at all. 7

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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering One other finding is worth noting:  The order of importance was reversed for engineers from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups (African-American, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indian/Alaska Native), who considered high cost the most important personal barrier and time the second most important. We also studied the engineers’ willingness to devote time for lifelong learning. FIGURE 3 Graph showing the responses of 2,900 engineers to the question, “How many hours per week of your own time are you willing to devote to lifelong learning?” The results (FIGURE 3) show that over half of the engineers surveyed would be willing to devote 1 to 4 hours per week for lifelong learning, and slightly less than a third expressed willingness to allocate 5 to 8 hours. We also discovered the following:  Men expressed willingness to give somewhat more time (slightly more than 5 hours per week) to lifelong learning than women (just over 4 hours per week).  Engineers with less than 10 years of experience are willing to allocate 5½ hours per week, while those with more than 10 years wish to give somewhat less time (approx. 4¾ hours per week).  The willingness to devote time to lifelong learning is independent of the highest degree earned by the engineer. 8

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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering  Engineers from underrepresented racial groups are, on average, willing to give 2 hours to lifelong learning per week than are white engineers: 7 hours per week for underrepresented groups and 5 for whites. BARRIERS TO EMPLOYER SUPPORT LIFELONG LEARNING OF OPPORTUNITIES We asked engineers about their perception of barriers that their employers face in regard to providing lifelong learning opportunities to their engineering employees. FIGURE 4 Engineers’ perception of why their employers might not support their lifelong learning needs, based on approximately 2,300 responses to the question, “Why do you think your employer might not support employee lifelong learning?” LL = lifelong learning The results (FIGURE 4) show that engineers perceive that the main reasons their employers do not support lifelong learning are lack of resources and loss of employee time at work. The potential loss of a better trained employee is not a significant barrier. Responses to the question of funding responsibilities differed according to firm size. Engineers from smaller firms generally responded that individuals should take more responsibility than employers for financing lifelong learning, engineers from medium-sized firms thought that employees and employers should be equally responsible, and engineers from large firms, that employers should take more responsibility than individuals. Indeed, small to medium enterprises (SMEs)—i.e., those with 500 or fewer employees—face particular difficulties when it comes to providing lifelong learning opportunities for their engineering employees. They tend not to have significant resources and to focus on short-term needs because of their vulner- ability in the marketplace. Yet SMEs represent 98 percent of the businesses in the 9

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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering United States, employing half of all private-sector employees13 and 41 percent of the nation’s high-tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer technicians). They have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually over the last decade and produced 14 times more patents per employee than large patent-producing firms.14 Thus, any infrastructure development for lifelong learning for engineers should be made with SMEs and their employees in mind. DRIVERS FOR DEVELOPMENT C O N T EN T LIFELONG OF FOR LEARNING We asked employees what should drive the content for lifelong learning. The results (FIGURE 5) indicate that scientific and technological advances must drive the content of lifelong learning programs. This is particularly important in the context of the rapid development and depreciation of knowledge. We also note that engineers believe that changing global business practices must drive content —in other words, some lifelong learning programs in the United States must be directed at learning business practices in other countries. Driver for content of lifelong learning programs Scientific and technological advances 4.34 Changing global business practices 3.87 New policies and regulations 3.7 New industries and marketplaces 3.55 1 2 3 4 5 Mean rating FIGURE 5 Engineers’ views of what should drive the content of lifelong learning programs, based on 2,900 responses to the question: “How important should each of the following considerations be in driving the content of lifelong learning?” Respondents ranked each from 5 = extremely important to 1 = not important at all. 13 Katherine Kobe. 2007. The Small Business Share of GDP, 1998-2004. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, April. Available online at www.sba.gov/advo/research/ rs299tot.pdf. 14 CHI Research. 2003. Small Serial Innovators: The Small Firm Contribution to Technical Change. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, February. Available online at www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs225.pdf. 10

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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering THE ROLE VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS OF We asked engineers how much of a role they think the government, industry, universities, and professional societies should play in the development of a national lifelong learning infrastructure. FIGURE 6 Engineers’ beliefs about the role of different stakeholders in lifelong learning, based on 3,000 responses. The results (FIGURE 6) show that 4 out of 5 engineers expect businesses (industries) to play an important or leading role in developing the national lifelong learning infrastructure, from which one could conclude that they believe employers have or should have a responsibility to ensure continuous education for their engineers. An overwhelming majority (3 out of 4) felt that universities and professional societies also have a significant role to play. One other finding is worth noting:  Engineers who considered their job insecure believed that the government should play an important role, whereas engineers who were very secure in their job did not. 11