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Last week's poll: Graduate employment

The roundtable feature in our current issue looks at issues surrounding graduate recruitment into engineering. Which of the solutions proposed in the feature would make the biggest contribution to boosting the number of graduates finding jobs in engineering and remaining there?

We received a surprisingly broad range of responses among the 227 replies to our poll last week. The largest group, a quarter of respondents, thought that employers should make it clearer that engineering provides a high proportion of well-paid jobs, in contrast to the relatively few high salaries available in sectors such as banking; while 21 per cent thought wider availability and take-up of industrial placements would help. The next largest group, 16 per cent, thought graduates were not well enough informed about the full range of engineering jobs available to them; while 15 per cent thought larger companies should receive grants to train graduates for SMEs without training facilities. A tenth thought universities should promote careers at SMEs, while 13 per cent declined to pick an option.


What’s your view on this topic? Is this an industry-wide, national problem, or should it be tackled on a regional basis? Who should bear the brunt of efforts: industry, universities or government? Let us know below.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Increase pay at graduate level

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  • As the feature makes clear, it's not that simple.

  • Graduate salaries aren't bad, they are reasonable. There is an issue with pay after graduation which is likely not to increase.

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  • How many graduate engineers do you need? A degree does not make you an engineer, let alone a good engineer.
    What you need are practical engineers, time served, trained on the shop floor who can do the job exceptionally well, then select the most suitable of these for university education in the appropriate subjects. Then "degree'd" engineers should get the salaries they deserve.

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  • Bob - There are a lot of areas in engineering and manufacturing is one of those. Very little engineering requires knowledge of a "shop-floor". Engineering has significantly evolved since then. I have "shop-floor"/practical skills and it has helped me at times. It doesn't make me an engineer. A wide range of skills have helped me the most. Unfortunately manufacturing skills have featured the least. Engineering has evolved and it does need a degree now. If you want to work in manufacturing then don't bother with a degree, do an apprenticeship. If you want to become a manufacturing engineer then I have found those that have progressed well have done a degree and focused on manufacturing. They then are able to ensure designs are optimised for manufacturing in that specific manufacturing facility.

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  • Piratical experience and a degree is I think the best mixture. As you say there are many different areas of engineering but most of these entail producing something through some kind of mechanical process. Therefore a mixture of theory and practice is ideal. Could you say what is your branch of engineering?

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  • We presume you been practical experience rather than experience being a pirate.

  • 1. More contextualised degrees. Engineering is the application of mathematics, it is grounded (earthed) in application not mathematical abstraction. Too many grads can do the maths but don't know what the maths tells them or what its purpose is.

    2. Grads knowledge is too compartmentalised. Too often they can't pull knowledge for different topics together to solve a problem.

    3. Graduate recruitment is poor with many companies simply expecting people with little prior industrial experience to know who they are.

    4. The institutions, universities and businesses are too loosely co-ordinated - to laissez faire. There needs to be a lot more upfront support from businesses for local universities and their engineering departments and too often uni departments are isolated ivory towers churning our courses which are often poorly suited for industry.

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  • Automotive, but I have involvement with aerospace too. Engineering encompasses so many areas that manufacturing can become a small part of that if it is even a feature. Engineering may not form an end product that was made in a workshop or manufacturing factility. A project engineer has little interest or need to know what tolerances to use on a drawing or even what machines that are needed. I would argue they could impact on the project, but a manufacturing engineer would fulfill that part of the project planning. Engineering has become a lot more than manufacturing. I fully agree, experience in manufacturing and a degree is a strong combination of skills.

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  • Tony and our Editor are a great double act!
    Pilot or pirate!
    The plot of the Gilbert & Sullivan set in Penzance is themed around a mistake caused by the nurse of a child being hard of hearing! and apprenticing her charge to sea-going pirates rather than sea-going pilots

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  • Too many Engineering graduates coming out from Universities and too few jobs around, so don't see the demand or incentive to take up Engineering as a Profession. Maybe in the Oil and Gas and Renewable Energy fields

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  • Re: the Engineer's response to my post 18/04/2014.

    See below the definition of an engineer

    "An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics, and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical, societal and commercial problems. Engineers design materials, structures, and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, and cost. The word engineer is derived from the Latin roots ingeniare ("to contrive, devise") and ingenium ("cleverness").

    The work of engineers forms the link between scientific discoveries and their subsequent applications to human needs and quality of life"

    To my mind to me "practicality" will only come from "Hands-on" experience. Acls tell me what degree will provide "ingenuity "?

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