Vocational training takes many forms. For Hyder Consulting, it includes sending young engineers overseas to see what it takes to manage a multinational project.
'Technical competence is only one aspect of ensuring international projects are successful, ' says Hugo Axel-Burg, Hyder international director.
'Understanding the complex management issues associated with large multi-cultural projects is fundamental, and we consider that investment for young engineers to gain this experience is vital to their career development.'
Martyn Owen, a 28 year old project engineer, and 27 year old environmental consultant Rebecca Edwards have taken advantage of Hyder's vocational training programme. They spent two weeks working with the design team for the Taiwan High Speed Rail project.
The international consulting firm is lead design engineer on two consecutive sections of the £10bn project, as well as being the independent checker on another section of the link.
For a fortnight, Edwards and Owen shadowed Hyder's Taiwan management team. They attended progress meetings - including one that brought together key personnel from the firm's design centres in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Australia.
The meetings dealt with implementation of design by contractors and integration of Hyder's sections with the rest of scheme.
At its peak, the Taiwan design team will make 65 design submissions a week, for structures including viaducts, bridges, tunnels and embankments. The railway, in a seismically active region, must be designed for super-fast trains.
Training on a project such as this gives engineers a better understanding of the design process and ways in which each design can be integrated, says Axel-Burg. It will also instill in them an appreciation of what can be very different cultures and working environments to their own.
'The sheer scale of the project is astounding, ' comments Edwards, who admits she was inspired by her experience in Taiwan.
The chance to learn about the complexities of multidisciplinary and international projects was invaluable, she adds, and takes her one step closer to achieving her ultimate goal of managing multinational projects herself.
Vocational training and you
Does your company excel or fall short when it comes to vocational training? How, if at all, has vocational training helped you develop your career? NCE is keen to know your opinions on this and other career related topics. Email your views and/or careerrelated problems to Fiona McWilliam at fiona@solutionsinc. co. uk or Sally O'Reilly sallyoreilly@pavilion. co. uk Key points Vocational training is sometimes the only way to understand how multi national projects work Such training provides an understanding of the complexities and scale of projects The benefits include a wider view of working environments and cultures which can assist future decision making