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Atkins looks down under to plug skills gap

SHORTAGES OF transport engineers have forced WS Atkins to launch a major recruitment drive in Australia and New Zealand.

The consultant is hoping to fill 60 immediate transportation vacancies from the trip.

'Currently we have about 1,500 transportation engineers, ' said WS Atkins transportation director Mike Hewson. He said he was realistically expecting to bring back 30 engineers from down under.

Hewson is looking for engineers trained in analytical, rather than empirical, design techniques as these are in short supply in the UK.

Analytical design can save clients money by tailoring engineering designs to the demands of specific projects.

Empirical design is geared to adapting standard engineering solutions to specific projects. It often produces a more failsafe result but can be expensive.

Australia was recommended to WS Atkins by recruitment specialist Anders Elite for its quality of staff and cultural similarities to the UK.

'Our first recruitment seminar took place in Brisbane on Tuesday last week, followed by three days of intensive interviews, ' said Anders Elite business manager Paul Scott.

He added that the same seminars and interviews were planned for Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland.

'The response has been absolutely unbelievable. On that first seminar in Brisbane, we had 53 people booked in - and 110 turned up for interview, ' said Scott, adding that the quality of interviewees was 'exceptionally high'.

Australia is suffering from a downturn in construction, partly due to the post-Olympics lull.

Following a first round of interviews this month the company plans to re-visit the four cities for second interviews before mobilising new employees from January 2001.

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