During the 1960s there was widespread public concern and controversy in Britain
about the flow of graduate scientists and engineers into industrial employment. This
thesis summarises some of the major viewpoints in this public debate and examines relevant sociological studies of the occupational socialisation of scientists and engineers. New evidence on the utilisation of recently -qualified scientists and engineers is presented from a case study of new entrants to the electronics industry.
Information for the study of utilisation was collected in a pilot and main study
by tape recorded interviews with ninety industrial managers and tape recorded interviews
supplemented by questionnaires with over two hundred recently -qualified scientists and
engineers. The open -ended nature of the interviews facilitated examination of managerial
and recruit perspectives on their situation and the factors shaping these perspectives.
Managers were found to advance a variety of rationales for graduate recruitment,
some of which were mutually inconsistent. The state of recruitment policy, execution,
and appraisal cast doubts on past manpower forecasting methodology.
Graduates were found to view entry to employment as a continuation of their job
search in the face of inadequate information. Tentative entry to the labour market and
low commitment to the current employer was reinforced by disappointment in early work
assignments, realisation that they must undertake responsibility for their own career advancement and beliefs about an expanding labour market. Graduate scientists and engineers tended to claim a distinctive status in the industrial organisation on the basis
of educational qualifications and training, but did not attempt to simulate academic
employment. Professionalism and technicism appear as temporary-bargaining counters in
career advancement. This interpretation of graduate scientist and engineering perspectives on employment emphasises satisfactions and dissatisfactions as products of
both educational and industrial situations and not educational experiences alone.
Preliminary evidence is found of differences in orientations and perspectives
between scientists and engineers in research and development departments which suggest
the vulnerability of graduate physicists to disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Suggestions are made for further research into the utilisation of highly qualified
manpower and it is concluded that there should be less reliance on the formal educational, system for solutions to manpower problems.