Internet access as a structural factor in career choice: a comparison between computing and non-computing major students

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 9
  • SDG 8
  • Abstract:

    The career choice model of Adya and Kaiser posits the availability of technology resources as a structural element impacting on career choice. The model distinguishes between accessibility at school and at home. Based on this theoretical point of departure and by arguing a link between choice of major and choice of fi eld of career, this paper explores specifi cally the infl uence of the access of internet at school and at home on perceptions and values pertaining to the career South African students are preparing for. This exploratory study investigates whether any differences can be found between students who selected computing majors at tertiary level and students who selected non-computing majors. Internet availability in South Africa is potentially interesting, as it constitutes not simply an ‘available technology’, but may be an indicator of aspects such as technology skills, information resources, educational quality and socio-economic conditions. A quantitative study was conducted with 1741 students as participants from three different departments in the School of IT at a university in South Africa. Students participated in a survey early in the academic year. The fi ndings show that lack of internet access homogenises students’ career perceptions across the groups of majors. However, where students have internet access the views on career choices differ considerably between computing-majors and non-computing majors particularly in terms of views on the nature of work opportunities and of personal qualities of IT people. Also, a pronounced difference emerges in the perceptions of non-computing majors with and without internet access centering around views about the importance of sources of career information and around self-effi cacy in the chosen career. Most importantly, the computing majors group is fairly homogeneous in terms of their perceptions regarding computer-related careers regardless of internet access. Since similarities shared by these students evidently cannot be ascribed to internet access or even to the socio-economic and educational factors that make internet access possible, this research indicates that the infl uence of the internet on perceptions of career and consequently on career choice is complex with more diverse linkages to psychosocial factors than posited by the model of Adya and Kaiser.