Original Research

Secondary education as a predictor of aptitude: Implications for selection in the automotive sector

Juliet I. Puchert, Nicole Dodd, Kim L. Viljoen
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 43 | a1416 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1416 | © 2017 Juliet I. Puchert, Nicole Dodd, Kim L. Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 October 2016 | Published: 22 September 2017

About the author(s)

Juliet I. Puchert, Department of Business Management, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Nicole Dodd, Industrial Psychology (Mil), Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Kim L. Viljoen, Department of Business Management, University of Fort Hare, South Africa

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Orientation: Details of applicants’ secondary education (incorporating subject choice) could be a useful screening tool when processing large applicant pools. Here, the relationships between secondary education (incorporating subject choice) and the reasoning and visual perceptual speed components of the Differential Aptitude Test are explored.

Research purpose: The objective of the study was to determine whether type of secondary education (incorporating subject choice) could be used as a substitute for reasoning (verbal and non-verbal) and/or visual perceptual speed aptitudes in the selection of operators for an automotive plant in South Africa.

Motivation for the study: The motivation for this study arose from the evident gap in academic literature as well as the selection needs of the automotive industry.

Research design, approach and method: This research adopted a quantitative approach. It involved a non-probability convenience quota sample of 2463 work-seeking applicants for an automotive operator position in South Africa. Participants completed a biographical questionnaire and three subtests from the Differential Aptitude Test battery. The Chi-square test was used to determine the relationship between type of secondary education (incorporating subject choice) and selected cognitive aptitudes.

Main findings: The study’s findings revealed statistically and practically significant relationships between type of secondary education (incorporating subject choice), verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and visual perceptual speed. Broad performance levels in the three aptitude subtests employed in this study were significantly associated with the type of matriculation certificate held by applicants. The findings specifically indicated that the secondary education types that included the subjects mathematics or both mathematics and science were associated with higher levels of performance in the three aptitudes. This had consequences for these applicants’ success in the screening process which could lead to enhanced chances of employability.

Practical and managerial implications: Applicants’ type of secondary education (incorporating subject choice) could be regarded as a key criterion in human resource selection and be instructive in the screening process. This could reduce the candidate pool prior to more costly psychometric assessments.

Contribution or value-add: The findings are specifically relevant to the South African automotive industry in terms of their human resource selection practices. The insights gained from the findings may also be used as a guide to human resource practitioners in the selection of similar level employees in other working contexts. The study makes a case for a multiple-hurdle approach to selection.


human resource selection; preliminary screening; psychological assessment


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