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Construction employers let students down says professor

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CIVIL ENGINEERING firms are struggling to recruit graduates because they are not engaging with students and universities, a leading academic said this week.

Speaking at a round table discussion on skills in the industry hosted by NCE and consultant MWH, Professor Robert Mair of Cambridge University's civil engineering department urged companies to do more.

'Industry must woo the students. It is very important that civil engineering courses remain at the cutting edge and that they are motivating and encourage creativity and excitement.

'Industry has an important part to play which is currently untapped. There is a huge opportunity for companies to play a greater role in courses.' Students taking part in NCE's 'How to get a job in civil engineering' event sponsored by WSP agreed that companies could do more.

'I fi nd that my projects are totally out of context with the real world. It ticks me off more than anything, ' said Cela Gallagher, a fi nal year student at Newcastle University.

Other students said that although companies sent staff to give lectures, these tended to focus on the corporate ethos of certain firms and failed to provide basic information about life as a civil engineer.

Mair said there were many opportunities for companies to become more involved through giving lectures, providing engineers to act as visiting professors and increasing the number of summer student placements.

Students agreed. 'Summer placements are practically impossible to find and it is never clear who we are supposed to apply to. It is pot luck, ' said one.

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