Civil engineering graduates are more likely to stay in the building profession than those studying similar degrees, figures have shown.
NCE analysed data published this week by researchers at the Higher Education Careers Service Unit. It revealed that 56% of students completing their first degree in civil engineering last summer were employed as engineering or building professionals this January.
This was up from 50% the previous year as the recovering industry began to pull in more civils graduates.
In contrast, just four in 10 recent architecture and building graduates had made it into the building profession by this January, along with one in four electrical and electronic engineering university leavers, many of whom had entered IT.
Some 51% of recent mechanical engineering graduates were working in the building sector in January 2014.
The figures are perhaps even more surprising given graduate salary data released elsewhere this week.
Average starting pay for those leaving university with a civil engineering degree is now £24,524, according to the report.
Those studying electrical and electronic engineering could expect £115 more per year, while mechanical engineering commanded an average of £26,076.
Chemical engineering students were the big winners, with an average starting salary of £29,582 – not far off the £30,395 on offer to dentistry graduates, who top the pile across all subjects.
But the spike in the proportion of civils graduates staying in the profession could not have come at a better time.
Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, said: “Delivering, maintaining and upgrading the UK’s infrastructure over the next 10 years will require a highly skilled and diverse workforce.
“This projected growth in demand will provide new entrants to the sector an opportunity to build a secure and sustainable career path.
“A long-term career in infrastructure should offer not only an attractive financial package, but also the opportunity to play a part in building the future success of the UK.”
One NCE online reader hailed the opportunities on offer to graduates.
“Given the choice of an office-bound, number-crunching, mind-numbing, high paid job or one where there are opportunities to go places, see things and be a part of something inspiring – albeit on a lower salary – what would you choose as your first real job?” asked Peter Owen.
More than two-thirds of those graduating in civil engineering last summer were working full time in the UK in January, according to the latest poll.
A further 2% were working overseas, with 4% working part-time in the UK and a similar proportion combining paid work with further study.
Of those in some form of employment, seven in 10 were working as engineering or building professionals. About 5% were in business, HR or finance, with a similar number in retail, catering or waiting.
Unexpected job titles for recent civils graduates included cricket coach, teaching assistant and train driver.
Encouraging young people to choose careers in engineering has been a hot topic recently.
Sir John Armitt was among the senior engineering figures featured dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit single Happy in a video released this month to promote careers in the industry.
ICE London director Miranda Housden said the video was aimed at “busting the myth” that engineering is boring.
Female engineering students ‘lost’ at 16
Too many female students are lost to engineering at the age of 16, according to a report published this week.
The study by think tank IPPR highlighted a lack of young female students taking science, technology, engineering and maths A-levels.
This means too few women have the right pre-requisites to consider an engineering or science degree, it said.
In September, University College London told NCE it had boosted the gender balance on its civil engineering programmes by dropping the strict A-level requirements of many of its rivals.