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In the article 'Careers smarten up' (GE September 04) the University of Portsmouth is quoted as having 'more than 30 final year engineering geology students' Sadly this year there were only 11 graduates from the BEng (Hons) engineering geology and geotechnics pathway, although lectures were presented to students from other pathways.

These figures reflect greatly the challenges in recruiting new students into the field of engineering geology and geotechnics and highlight some future difficulties for the industries in the supply of suitable graduates.

The degree courses, both in engineering geology and geotechnics and geological hazards at Portsmouth pay particular attention to UK geohazards, from landsliding and slope instability, problematic soils, collapse and solution hazards, mining and gas hazards through to the problems of contaminated land.

This provides all of our graduates with the necessary background and skills required for employment in the more hazard and risk-orientated ground engineering sector that we all now work in.

The article did raise one area of concern though. We are increasingly seeing recruitment and employment agencies becoming intermediaries between the graduates from courses such as ours and their potential employers.

When the undergraduates 'sign up' they are not always fully aware of the consequences, especially financial, of their actions. There have been several cases this year where recent graduates have applied directly to a company but were unable to be offered a suitable post because the firm had already received their CV via an agency along with the associated cost overhead.

I would very much like to encourage more direct contact between potential employers and the undergraduates, especially as there are so few students.

Employers and external examiners already recognise the skills that industry requires, detailed in the article, are already embedded in our curriculum.

Our units in professional skills for applied geoscientists and engineering geology practice, in which we already have visiting speakers from industry, are designed to provide undergraduates with most of what industry requires in terms of basic training and skills.

The lecture programme is complemented by a substantial study tour where all aspects of engineering geology, geological hazards and profession practice are considered. Suggestions for future content within our programmes are always welcome.

Dave Giles, applied geoscience programme manager, School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth

I note with interest the news story in GE October on Geotechnical Developments and Leicester RFC (Sky's the limit for Geotechnical).

On the same rugby theme, geoenvironmental and contaminated land consultant Integrated Geotechnical & Environmental Services (IGES) has been the main sponsor of Kenilworth Rugby Football Club (Midlands 2) for the past three seasons. The company is actively helping the club to move to another site about 1km away from its home in Glasshouse Lane, Kenilworth.

IGES is also working with developer Taylor Woodrow Homes on redevelopment of the former illustrious homes of Coventry RFC and Moseley RFC and, in the case of Coventry RFC, was involved in the geoenvironmental appraisal of its new home at The Butts.

W J Whitesmith, IGES

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