Engineering undergraduates demand more work experience, graduate schemes and graduate training.
A thousand engineering undergraduates from the UK’s top universities were surveyed recently by the leading graduate jobs site, TARGETjobsengineering.co.uk, and their No 1 problem that the employers cited was the lack of work experience available to them.
The survey results were revealed at the annual TARGETjobs Engineering Forum, held at ImperialCollege on 28 July and attended by regular engineering employers like BP, Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy, Unilever and E.ON.
In a difficult job market, the engineering students surveyed felt that the glaring lack of work experience opportunities made it much more difficult to get a job interview or offer in their final year. They did all the right things by attending campus presentations and careers fairs but when it came to the crunch, they felt that employers favoured students who had substantial relevant work experience. Many pointed out the irony of the situation where they were encouraged to get work experience by the same organisations who didn’t actually offer it to them.
A mechanical engineering student from Imperial College said:
Graduates need a chance to gain experience although they are being asked to have experience before they’re considered for a job. This isn’t fair.
And an electrical engineering student from Loughborough said:
Most students have no experience but most of the jobs ask for experience. It’s completely unfair and pushes a lot of people out of the engineering market.
This student’s fears are confirmed elsewhere in the survey, where 90 per cent of respondents said they knew other students who were actively considering working outside engineering after graduation – usually in the City where banks value the analytical skills of engineers. With the country’s focus on regeneration of the manufacturing sector, this is could have a negative effect on growth.
Students also called for more employers on campus and more direct involvement by employers in coursework. They are desperately serious about becoming more-rounded engineers but they want a level playing field and the chance to prove their worth.
Chris Phillips, Publishing Director at GTI Media and Chair of the TARGETjobs Engineering Forum, said:
I have never experienced such a consistent response from a student survey before. The majority of respondents were amazed and appalled at the lack of work experience being offered and the insistence by some employers that experience was a pre-requisite for applicants. The situation is improving, however, and most of the employers attending the Forum had already committed to extending their placement programmes
The above information is from a media release through Targetjobs.