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Graduate awards 2012: Are you ready for success?

Attention graduate civil engineers - now is your chance to rise above the market malaise with record prizes and bags of praise as David Hayward highlights the launch of NCE’s 2012 Graduate Awards.

The rollercoaster of emotions currently faced by our newest graduate civil engineers, as they continue to face both job and market insecurity, is offered a welcome respite this week as NCE launches its annual Graduate Awards.

A basket of prizes, industry praise and career enhancement opportunities is on offer through construction’s most prestigious personal awards competition. The awards are free to enter and all you have to do is fill in a simple entry form.

Forget for a moment the continuing turbulent jobs lottery, with seemingly too many highly qualified graduates chasing ever diminishing career offers. Put aside last week’s news that graduate starting salaries are tumbling yet further down the league table of comparative new professionals, or that increasing numbers of civils graduates are being forced to desert the profession in favour of more lucrative - if less exciting - careers.

Enter now!


The awards are open to anyone who graduated in 2011 with a civil engineering or related degree.

Click here to find out more about how to enter or contact David Hayward, Graduate Awards Secretary on 01325 461149. Email:

Instead, let us help ensure that your glass is at least half full and remind you that last week the government announced backing of up to £70bn worth of mainly new infrastructure projects. Most support will come in the form of loan guarantees for public-private sector construction initiatives, but up to £30bn is earmarked for specific rail and utilities improvement schemes - many of which are ‘ready to go’ from next year.

Civil engineers who graduated anytime last year should ask themselves which group of construction professionals will be most in demand by companies suddenly faced with forming design or construction teams to meet this kick-starting boost.

Fresh, enthusiastic, blue-sky thinking graduates - untarnished by company or office politics - are essential components of tender-winning engineering teams and our top construction employers will be falling over themselves to attract the best of you.

NCE’s Graduate Awards offers you a one-off chance to package that enthusiasm and excitement at becoming civil engineers into our entry form - every one of which will be scrutinised in detail by at least two of our director-level company judges.

Good graduates are invaluable

The most astute of our construction clients, consultants and contractors fully realise that good graduates are invaluable and, despite severe financial restraints, an impressive number of them are keen to support NCE’s increasingly important awards and the aims that we hope to achieve through them.

Glance at our impressive list of top company sponsors - a record number this year - if you need any further proof.

The latest major client to join us is Thames Water, which has an annual capital programme spend of £1bn. A major contributor to that is the Thames Tideway Tunnel project, currently Europe’s largest privately financed infrastructure scheme.

“We feel it is vital clients, and the whole of our industry, support and encourage new graduates, especially in such difficult times,” says head of Thames Tideway Tunnel Phil Stride. “When the upturn arrives the last thing we need is a shortage of young civil ­engineers - ­essential members of any engineering team.”

“Thames Water considers graduate recruitment to be ­critical to business success and our extensive graduate programme includes a large number of civil engineers,” adds Stride, who will be joining this year’s judging panel.

Formed entirely of senior ­engineers from the awards’ sponsors, this panel will not only mark the entries but will - on mass - interview the top six finalists, making this a one-off opportunity to sell your wares to our industry leaders.
In our entry form we ask you to highlight your achievements both at university and at work. We also invite you to write two short essays, one convincing us that we should choose you as our top graduate civil engineer and the other debating an opinion-riddled construction topic.

This year the subject offers exciting and wide scope to demonstrate original, out of the box, thinking. NCE is 40 years old and we want you to project yourself forward four decades and discuss the possible future role of civil engineers, plus what they could or should be designing and building in 2052.

Recognise and reward

The prime aim of the competition is to recognise and reward those graduates who can highlight not only academic and practical achievements in their career so far but can also demonstrate an enthusiasm and pride at becoming civil engineers.

Initiatives, both at and away from work, are as important to the judges as academic or engineering skills. No company endorsement is needed for you to enter but it is hoped you will liaise with your boss and employers should, right now, be encouraging a wide range of their eligible graduates to enter.

Winners’ companies will share the exposure and praise.

The top six all round graduates will meet with the judges for a half hour “chat” at the Institution of Civil Engineers on Friday 9 November. And these finalists will be invited to the gala awards lunch, also at the ICE, on Friday 7 December.

All will be winners and will share in a record £4,000 prize pot. The overall graduate superstar will win £1,500, two runners up will each pocket £700 and three highly commended finalists will get £350. But of equal importance is the praise and company recognition they will receive for being our top graduates.

Current Graduate of the Year, Claire Gott from WSP, already sits on a government advisory committee; is earmarked to work as a special graduate ambassador alongside the next ICE president professor Barry Clarke, and has been invited to, next week, meet and interview construction minister Mark Prisk.

So good things do really happen to our winners.

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