Training that’s in a class of its own

As civil engineering skills hit an all-time low, WS Atkins offers a school leavers’ training scheme,

As the skills crisis in the civil engineering industrydeepens, consultant WS Atkins is offering a training scheme for school leavers to help fill its vacancies.

Each year the company recruits a similar number of school leavers as it accepts on its graduate training scheme, and then trains them to either HNC or degree status.Mike Gaston-Grubb, senior group engineer at WS Atkins, said the young people can train up to chartered status. ‘There is a building block approach to qualification. If you set your sights on becoming a chartered engineer you can do it.’

Skills shortages in civil engineering have made recruitment in the sector very difficult, says Ellie Smith, training development adviser for WS Atkins. Applications for degree courses in civil engineering have dropped 40 per cent since 1994, and around two thirds of firms in the sector are now reported to be facing a shortfall of skilled staff.

‘Because of the skills shortages in civil engineering, recruitment is quite difficult, and it is hard to get the message across that it is a good career option. There is a lot of competition out there for young people, but working and studying at the same time is quite attractive to them,’ says Smith.

WS Atkins has 172 offices in 20 countries, and works on highway and water engineering projects, as well as asset management and software development.The company recruits school leavers with either GCSEs or A-levels, and then enables them to study for engineering HNC courses on day-release, or on part-time degrees.

‘We need engineers at all levels, so we bring people in and then train them while they study. We have recently had our scheme accredited through the Institution of Civil Engineers,’ said Smith.

Young people and qualified engineers joining WS Atkins are offered good training prospects, and the opportunity to work on projects throughout the world, she added.

The new recruits studying for an HNC gain experience on practical projects within thecompany, which helps with their academic studies.

On completion of their HNC, the young people can then sit matching course sections to take them up to full chartered engineer status.

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