Privatisation has fuelled an engineering recruitment drive at QinetiQ, the technology firm recently spun off from the former Defence Evaluation Research Agency.
The company’s sensors and electronics division is planning to recruit 265 engineers and scientists by the end of March 2002, as part of its growth plan following privatisation, said Rachel Ashley, divisional recruitment manager at QinetiQ.
‘We have been privatised and have split from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, which has been retained by the MoD. So we have lost some skills to that area, and we are trying to strengthen our level of engineers and scientists,’ she said.
Sensors and electronics is one of QinetiQ’s four divisions, and has expertise in electromagnetic sensing and radio frequency sensing technologies, imaging, semiconductor components, fibre optics, and radar systems.
The division is looking for electronics engineers, and despite the skills shortages in this field, these specialists have become easier to recruit since the slump in the telecoms industry, said Ashley. Privatisation has also shortened the time it takes the company to recruit each engineer, as the posts no longer all require full security clearance.
‘To some potential employees, DERA was also seen as very civil service and bureaucratic. but privatisation has stripped that away, and we have more freedom to operate, so it is more attractive to a lot of people,’ she said. ‘But the one disadvantage is that we are a new brand, so a lot of people wonder who we are, and some can’t even pronounce our name.’
Engineers joining QinetiQ will work on a variety of projects, such as thermal imaging, and a new generation of liquid crystal displays. The company is also working on a holographic imaging project with Ford, creating a high quality 3D display for designing new cars.
‘We have got existing skills and some brilliant technology which we have previously only used in the defence market but have far wider applications. so we want to ensure all these are marketed. We are strengthening staff numbers generally, as well as widening the breadth of engineers and scientists within the organisation.’