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Working out a graduate engineering job

Published: Monday, 09 November 2009   Category: Recruitment Feature Articles

You have just finished three years (or more) of academic work and now it is time to get your hands dirty in the practical world of a graduate engineering job. While it is a pretty big field, if you have a degree in any kind of engineering, science, maths, design, geography or even art then there is probably a graduate job for you in this area. From civil engineer to environmental surveyor, from forensics expert to architect, many roads lie ahead for the engineering graduate.

Are there still graduate jobs available?

A recent major study by the Association of Graduate Recruiters showed that nearly a quarter of graduate job vacancies across all sectors had disappeared from December 2008 and June 2009. While this is obviously a negative figure, when individual sectors are taken into consideration, engineering firms closed only seven per cent of its positions to graduates, around three per cent less than was predicted.

Ener-G, an engineering firm which focuses on renewable power, even opened a new graduate recruitment scheme shortly after the report was released. It opened its doors to new electrical and mechanical engineering graduates, who will now receive two years' 'off-the-job' training to help develop them into executives ready for the upturn. It believes that more engineers will be needed as the UK moves into a low-carbon economy, which will require many major renovation projects.

Similarly, a survey by graduate advice website Gradcracker.com showed that two-thirds of those with engineering degrees believe that their prospects for finding work are good, despite the economic climate. The graduate job market in engineering is far less competitive than other sectors simply because there are fewer students choosing to study the subject at university and therefore the skills involved are in demand.

Chris Cater, co-founder of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, has also commented that "we've got a shortage of electrical engineers and a shortage of civil engineers, we also have shortages in food science" and even suggested employers in these fields may be willing to increase salaries to get hold of graduate talent.

What do I need to do to secure a job?

While engineering degrees are typically more vocational and less academic than other higher education qualifications, as with all sectors a graduate internship would not look bad on a CV. However, internships must be chosen carefully to ensure that you get the most out of them and improve your engineering skills.

One thing not to do, according to Gradcracker.com is to feel put out at the lack of graduate jobs available. Sean O'Connor, director of the website, has said that media reports have been "exaggerated" and students should not give in to pessimism if they are to secure a position at an engineering firm.

Is it harder for women to get a graduate engineering job?

It is true that the engineering sector is currently dominated by men, however this is changing. The Women's Engineering Society celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, showing that females have been present in at least some form for a very long time. The UK Resource Centre for Women also encourages those who have made it as far as getting an engineering degree to be a role model for society by taking up a graduate position in the sector. And you won't be alone – statistics from the organisation show that there were 46,699 women holding degrees in engineering by 2008.

So, don't let the recession or anything else hold you back on your quest for a graduate job in engineering. You never know, it could lead you to great places.
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