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Richard's blog: Elderly graduates make nonsense of the ICE's salary survey

The Graduates and Students Network (GSNet) has never been afraid to raise its voice when it felt something was wrong and there were no exceptions at last week’s meeting - where the main topic of interest was the ICE Salary Survey published in July, which quoted the average graduate salary rising 19% over the past two years to in excess of £34,000.

Richard Crawford, is chairman elect of GS Net

GSNet took the opportunity to question the ICE, raising concerns that the survey sent out the wrong signal to undergraduates, recent graduates and employers, at a time when in reality, graduate civil engineering salaries fall behind those of other graduates.

Bosses must have been choking on their cornflakes that morning and wondering how many letters of resignation they would be having on their desks from graduates eager to find these high paid jobs.

Luckily, the mass migration of graduate engineers doesn’t seem to have happened, but GSNet members were unhappy that the true figure was not being publicised.

“While graduate members are predominately in their 20s and early 30s, some have chosen not to qualify, and are in their 50s and 60s. We were told that the oldest Graduate member in the survey is 77.

With age comes increased responsibility and an increased salary, which obviously skews the figures.
What we are interested in is the starting salary for graduates, and what they can expect to earn in the first five years of their career.

These are the figures that mean more to most of our members, and to the new generation of civil engineers coming through university at the moment. We are not going to keep them in civil engineering if they think, from this survey, that they should be earning £34,000 as a graduate member but in reality are only getting offered around £20,000 when they leave university”.

In a very heated debate, the ICE agreed to take onboard the concerns of GSNet members, and look at how in future a more useful figure can be extracted from the survey for Graduate members.

It was stressed that while graduates and students make up around 33% of the ICE membership, a significant majority do become professionally qualified engineers within 10 years of graduating, and that using this group would give a better snap shot of the average salary, rather than the skewed figure used this year.

We are not saying that we should be treated as a special case, there have already been concerns raised by public sector civil engineers about the apparently high figures.

But we need the survey to reflect the reality for our members to help us encourage the next generation into the profession, and the average graduate salary quoted in the survey doesn’t do that”.

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