Attracting engineers into the industry has been a topic of conversation for many engineering employers in recent years. Many will tell you that engineers are hard to come by and that schools and colleges are doing precious little to help the situation. Sir James Dyson has even gone on record to express his concerns.
Here at PRV Engineering we have seen at first hand how apprentice engineers and young qualified engineers are hard to come by. As managing director Simon Jones said, “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get youngsters interested in engineering and as a result, we find it increasingly hard to recruit the right kind of person.”
Although those sentiments are echoed throughout the industry, a recent ‘skills report‘, undertaken by the Institution of Engineering and Technology has taken a back-handed swipe at engineering firms who they believe are expecting too much from their new recruits.
The report suggests that firms should stop expecting young people to arrive as ‘oven-ready’ employees and invest more in training.
Although the percentage of firms unhappy with new recruits’ skill levels had risen from 33 to 44 per cent, the report’s suggests that employers should be more realistic about what practical experience schools and universities could provide. The report’s author Stephanie Fernandes believes engineering firms should offer more opportunities themselves if they wanted to improve skill levels.
The detailed report found the following problems
- A lack of practical experience, technical expertise and leadership skills were the main problems with graduates.
- 30 per cent of firms also named practical experience and 25 per cent cited technical expertise as the skills missing from school leavers.
“Schools are where you get the basics – numeracy, literacy and general concepts – but it’s more concerning that graduates lack practical skills,’ said Fernandes.
“There needs to be more clarity on things like practical experience because a lot of schools simply aren’t equipped to deliver that. If employers want more practical experience it’s up to them to get involved.
“They can work with schools and institutions to provide those opportunities, even for teachers. It’s not enough to say we’re concerned about skills. The time has come for employers to put their money where mouth is.”
Are you an engineer seeking employment? Do you run an engineering firm and find it difficult to recruit qualified engineers? What do you think?