Out into the Big Wide World

2 min read

A personal brush with the engineering skills shortage prompts our anonymous blogger to ask whether industry is making the best use of its young engineers

In a shock development I can report that, after getting on for 15 years, I have parted company with Amalgamated Products Limited. I wish those I have left behind me well and will continue to keep an eye on how they are doing in the world of Widget design and production. After much soul searching I concluded that life had reached a point where I needed fresh horizons, and once that decision had been made there was no going back.

Apprentices
Apprentices

After saying my fond farewells I spent a month or so concentrating on other areas of my life before deciding that I had better look into getting another job. Idle frippery is attractive but unfortunately doesn’t serve to keep a roof over one’s head. I figured on a month being a realistic timeframe before getting a sniff of an interview, however even with a lacklustre start to job hunting (CV sent to only 4 agencies) within a fortnight I had two offers on the table. Let me assure you dear reader that, although hoping I am at least capable in my chosen career, I do not have delusions of being an engineering genius.

It seems youngsters who are coming into industry aren’t being exposed to a very wide experience

So to what do we attribute my current (thankfully) eminent bankability? Based on comments made during my brief search for a new position, and from what I have heard about candidates coming in for interviews at Amalgamated Products Limited, it would appear there are two major factors.

The impression I get is that graduates have been seen recently as a resource to be plonked in front of a computer in order to bang out multiple variations of a simple component

Against the wider background of the oft quoted shortage of new engineers, it seems youngsters who are coming into industry aren’t being exposed to a very wide experience. Whilst apprenticeships are once more being pushed, I believe a major failing is that the structure underpinning these isn’t being applied to all who join our profession.

In fact the impression I get is that graduates have been seen recently as a resource to be plonked in front of a computer in order to bang out multiple variations of a simple component. They gain an in depth knowledge in a highly focussed area at the expense of gaining that all important breadth. I should imagine that this helps the balance sheets in that they are immediately producing a line of designs and can therefore be seen as “earning their way”, but this is surely a very short term and wasteful view?

Personally, I would like to see a proper structured programme for anyone with less than 3 years in industry (admittedly an arbitrary figure but one which I believe to be within the correct “ballpark”). This would be tailored to the individual’s education and background but, in all cases, would seek to produce a more “well rounded” professional. This is surely the only basis for providing a strong engineering industry for the future? For now though there is a silver lining for my bank manager in that it appears I shall never need to retire.