Why has Sony suddenly started recruiting UK engineering graduates again?
Sony UK is looking to recruit graduate engineers for the first time in years, the company announced this week.
The news marks a big change for the firm, which shut down a major part of its UK operation in 2006 after the exploding popularity of LCD TVs wiped out demand for the traditional sets made in Britain.
But now the Sony UK Technology Centre in South Wales is experiencing a welcome revival, with sales up 25% in two years, the top prize from last year’s Best Factory Awards on its mantelpiece, and graduate hiring back on the agenda.
It’s thanks not just to the centre’s expertise in producing broadcast camera equipment – if you’ve ever watched football on Sky Sports you’ll have seen pictures shot and produced using Sony kit.
The Centre has also redeveloped itself with the creation of a thriving startup hub and the success of contracts with high-tech firms including with British electronics sensation Raspberry Pi, said head of engineering Kevin Edwards.
The organisation is now looking for mechanical, electronic and software engineers to help design and implement the next generation of advanced electronics manufacturing – with a big emphasis on robotics.
‘These engineers will visit Japan regularly for new model briefings,’ said Edwards. ‘But when they come back it’s purely up to them to decide how they want to do the manufacturing, how to be competitive and produce the highest quality, all the things we need to ensure the manufacturing stays here.’
The centre’s startup incubator means its engineers regularly collaborate with innovative designers creating entirely new products: one current tenant is developing smart LED street lighting that uses GPS to determine when the sun comes up
And, having helped bring production of the Raspberry Pi credit card-sized computer to the UK from China, the centre now faces the challenge of creating even more cutting-edge fabrication techniques to keep the contract here.
‘One key component of the Pi was a pop part where the microcontroller has the memory service mounted directly on top,’ said Edwards. ‘That’s something we didn’t have [the capability to manufacture] but we turned it around in six weeks.
‘But now part of my role and that of the engineers will be to push automation. Even the owners of [iPhone manufacturer] Foxconn, super-manufacturers with 15 million people working in their organisations, they are looking at automation. Robotics is going to be absolutely mandatory for us to remain competitive over the next five years.’
So how can candidates convince Edwards they’re the ones to fill these new roles? University projects that show a track record of innovation, strong communication skills and self-motivation will set you apart, he said.
‘Those that stand out are the ones that demonstrate they’ve made not just a copy but really something new… The key thing for us is to find the next generation of leaders.’
The Sony UK Technology Centre has openings for four graduate engineers, commencing September 2014. The application process is now open and closes on 15th June 2014.