Transition from education to practice can be troublesome for many early-career engineers because expectations, habitual work practices and values tend to conflict with realities of engineering workplaces. Emerging technologies referred to as ‘Industry 4.0’ or the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ have prompted many to argue for students to develop improved socio-technical skills. Understandings of practice emerging from contemporary research could help educators shape a new generation of engineers with more appropriate abilities to restore global productivity growth and transform economies to eliminate greenhouse emissions in a short enough time to limit human-induced global warming. However, so far, explicit curriculum reforms addressing graduate attributes and workplace skills have not resulted in significant employability improvements. This paper argues that assessment practices and curriculum gaps may be acting as an implied or hidden curriculum shaping student expectations and values. This paper proposes ways to overcome these curriculum deficits in higher education institutions and also workplace education interventions. These changes could help educate engineers about productivity improvement, commercial and social value generation, business requirements and entrepreneurship. Changes like these will be needed to achieve sustainable development goals, especially in developing countries.