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Viewpoint: Investing in our future

Kieran Owens on how it is vital to back young engineers

With challenges such as climate change, population growth and urbanization threatening to change the way we live, it is vital we invest in upcoming young engineers who will have to provide the innovative solutions needed.

The ICE Graduates and Students Network (GSNet) plays a vital role in supporting individual student and graduate members.

The GSNet is made up of 30 graduates and students who represent the 25,800 graduate and student members of the ICE. We act as a conduit between the ICE’s council and the regions by promoting and encouraging the acquisition of knowledge by graduate and student members in all matters relating to the profession of civil engineering.

Earlier this year GSNet met in Bristol for its annual two day conference, the theme of which was membership.

“The economic downturn means jobs are harder to find. Some employees are seeing less benefits in training and mentoring.”

Going forward there will be a stronger focus on supporting individual graduate and student members as they progress towards professionally qualified status, while still continuing to deliver core activities, such as engaging with committees.

Emphasis is also being placed on attracting more graduates into civil engineering in an effort to avoid a skills gap in future, a lesson learned from the last recession in the early 1990’s.

The economic downturn has meant that jobs are harder to find and that some employees are seeing less benefits in terms of training and mentoring.

With companies having to cut back on formal training we want to encourage innovative thinking about training and continuing professional development (CPD).

There is a vast wealth of knowledge within companies, and asking a senior member of staff to give a lunchtime talk is a way of delivering CPD.

It was also recognised that members who are not on a company approved training scheme, or who change employers, may come across stumbling blocks to progressing their initial professional development.

GSNet is looking to use of a network of mentors, to guide graduates and students to the relevant guidance notes.”

GSNet is looking to improve this support, through the use of a network of mentors, to guide graduates and students to the relevant membership guidance notes and to provide ideas on where to find different sources of support.

A GSNet Induction Pack and best practice guide has been put together to provide information on GSNet and tips on how to set up a committee, organise an event, evening meeting, competition or site visit. Developing your leadership skills is a valuable way to help you on your road to professional qualification.

On the ground, ICE Wales’ G&S committee recently held a five-part lecture series, which attracted over 100 graduates. The series used the Church Village Bypass scheme in South Wales as a case study to guide graduates through the key stages involved in executing a successful major infrastructure project, concluding with a site visit.

These are tough times that we are working and studying in, and the GSNet would like graduate and student members to know we are available to discuss any problems or concerns you might have. Alternatively the ICE Benevolent Fund offers assistance to members and their families who are in need of extra support.

● Kieran Owens is chairman of the ICE GSNet

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