Engineering and design sector: Experience v Qualifications:
By Alex 25-11-2020
The design and engineering sector has changed. Specialised workers are integral to the continuation of the engineering industry. Importing designers from over seas has also become the trend when locating the best of the best. Many people still consider attending university the best, or even the only way to attain a well paid job. They assume that attaining one will be the answer to these problems. Whilst for many jobs a degree may still be relevant, is this the case when applying for the design and engineering sector?
Compared to fifty years ago, a degree has become an increasingly recurring feature on a young person’s CV. Competition among graduates looking to attain a entry level job is high. Graduates may be forgiven for assuming that the past three to five years of studies would rank them high on the list of desirable candidates for employers. But when pitted against another candidate who though might lack the fancy letters after their name, the graduate is not always the front runner for the position…
Figures show that 58 per cent of employers rated work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented”. A student’s personality came second, with 48 per cent favouring this. As hard working and dedicated a degree may prove you are, it cannot be denied that graduates lack technical and practical skill sets. Ultimately, graduates cannot compete with someone who has 10 years of hands-on experience on the production floor. A person with this kind of practical knowledge can jump into a project with minimal time spent on training. This often makes them the more cost effective option. This is particularly troubling when it comes to specialized yet extremely sought after roles such as injection molding operators:
I’ve met too many people who go through injection molding training courses (VERY expensive ones – limiting the attendees to larger companies) who have a diploma on the wall who can’t explain the answers to simple questions
These questions should be easy. But most graduates from the injection molding training courses I’ve seen, who’ve been declared “Trained and Certified” can’t answer those questions.
Taking a training course and getting a certification does not guarantee that the person have the necessary skills or have understood what the questions were. They need to have practical experience on being on the injection molding production floor for months and years to be effective. – http://www.injectionmoldingplastic.com/injection-molding-training-courses-don-t-mean-practical-experiences.html
Another employer of design engineers, Bob Gregory, however, has no problem with the prospect of hiring a graduate with little experience: “The ones that we do get are of high quality and they learn quickly, we don’t expect them to come to us with a good working knowledge of SolidWorks or any other 3D modelling software.” The ability to learn quickly is an undeniably attractive trait of a graduate, teamed with the foundational knowledge and eagerness to begin, six months on-project training can result in an employee that presents the full package of education and skill. This kind of in-house talent, hired on a graduate level salary can have undeniable appeal.
The Engineering Graduate Problem
Even if an employer were seeking a newly qualified graduate, there has been a major shortage of science and engineering students in recent years. Smaller design or engineering companies, especially those not located in major cities, struggle to get enough applicants just to fill roles within the company, never mind finding competitively trained candidates. A study, commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering, found that British industry will need 100,000 new graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects every year until 2020 just to maintain current employment numbers. If demand for graduates continues to reach this level, then applicants without the relevant qualification but with experience will be increasingly integral to the growth of the UK’s design and engineering industries.
The future of procuring skilled, experienced workers looks a little unsure. The recent Brexit vote means securing overseas engineers may no longer be the option it has proved to be in the past when looking to find specialised skill sets. Employees will have to look within Britain for procuring specialised skilled workers. Whether this be through training up new graduates, or taking advantage of already experienced workers, depends on the personal taste of the employer.
What do you think the best option is for hiring new staff? Do you have negative experience of hiring an under-trained graduate? Or did you wish you’d gone down the graduate route rather than hire a previously trained staffer? Join the debate on our facebook and twitter pages![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]