While Atkins has a reputation for technical excellence, the industry’s growing skills shortage is a concern.
With more than 18,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue of £1.76bn, one might think Atkins is well prepared, but it always needs to recruit more engineers.
Chief engineer Richard Leighton says: “there is a shortage”.
“In the medium and long term we do have a challenge in finding the right number of technical and professional people out there. Young people are key to [solving] that, both in terms of encouraging them to come into the industry, and making it easy to join us at Atkins.”
To combat the problem, Atkins deploys 500 science, technology, engineering, mathematics education ambassadors around the country, showing the career pathway to students.
“We’re seeking to make it more attractive to youngsters,” says Leighton. “We have a big focus on recruiting – last year we took on 380 apprentices and graduates.”
With 20 years experience at Atkins, it’s not hard to see Leighton has a passion for the job.
“It’s not about money and fees. It’s about making a difference, changing the world, albeit in small steps. On a personal level, I enjoy tackling technical problems, then implementing a solution for clients and their customers. And if that’s what you enjoy, Atkins is a great place to work.”
“When I meet people outside the company, they say Atkins has a strong focus on technical excellence. And it’s nice, on the inside, to see that that is the case.”
Leighton leads the Atkins’ Water Asset Management team. In his talks with water suppliers and regulators, it’s become clear the next generation of civil engineers will have plenty of problems solve.
“Challenges are climate change and sustainability reducing supply, and also population growth. That’s true at a national level, but at a local level it’s even more challenging.”