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Keep faith in engineering

Newly qualified engineers must remain positive despite the gloomy prospects following the recession and the recent budget.

It is undeniably a tough market at the moment and all of us have felt the impact of the economic decline in one way or another. But the economy is slowly recovering and as we enter a new era of productivity those of you who have just qualified or recently joined the workforce should feel some anticipation.

It has been estimated that the UK must invest upwards of £500bn over the next 10 years to drag its infrastructure into the ‘teenies’ and beyond. One of the biggest drivers is the urgent need to shift to a low carbon economy, and as Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said last week, this green ‘industrial revolution’ will help provide the jobs needed for the UK’s economic future.

In the meantime though, the Graduate Student Network (GSNet) recognises that these are troubling times for
ICE as a whole is very vocal and active in the drive to ensure b

oth the quantity and quality of those becoming civil engineering undergraduates is high and that the sector is engaged in developing, and retaining this skill base.

Lessons from the past

This is in the interest of the industry as a whole in the long-term, as we have learnt from previous recessions where a hiatus in recruitment has caused a shortage of trained engineers in later years.

If you are currently looking for work try and stay determined, diligent and positive. It might be worth considering diversifying into other areas. As the demand for low carbon solutions grows there will be a need for competent engineers in these areas, particularly in the renewable energy and nuclear sectors. If you’re still studying, think about doing some work experience or volunteering in your breaks - it’s a great way to make contacts, gain some practical experience and demonstrate your abilities to potential employers.

Keeping active in ICE events and activities is also important to ensure you’re part of the wider engineering community. As any established professional will tell you, networking is a powerful tool.

Finally, be persistent and involved, and make the most of the help available to you.

Through ICE, students and graduates can access a wide range of support, from financial assistance and work placements through the QUEST scholarships scheme (www.ice.org.uk/quest) to advice and support from the Benevolent Fund (www.bfice.org.uk).

The GSNet annual conference was held in Nottingham recently. It focused on providing advice to graduates and students looking for work in a tough economic climate. Visit www.ice.org.uk/gsnet for more information onGSNet and how they can help you.

Our advice is to be flexible. Versatility is a key consideration for employers. Find a mentor. Having mentors is vitally important, particularly in these tough times.Be commercially aware. Suggest ideas or ways to improve efficiency. Keep your CV and CPD records up to date. Be aware of current trends and industry issues.Be positive, persistent and proactive.

  • Kieran Owens is chair of the Graduate Student Network

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