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Skills shortage exacerbated by mix of 'ignorance and snobbery'

CONSULTANTS ARE creating their own skills shortages by shunning graduates without masters degrees, ICE regional liaison officers said this week.

Employers are also failing to encourage graduate engineers to seek incorporated status, they added.

But consultants hit back saying that the Institution of Civil Engineers had failed to promote the incorporated engineer qualification properly.

ICE regional liaison officer for Scotland Jacki Bell said that several consultants within her region insist on employing Master of Engineering (MEng) graduates only.

This, she said, is leading to difficulties as firms fight for the best MEng graduates because they are potential chartered engineers. As a result, they ignore graduates with Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees who take longer to become chartered.

But the rush to recruit MEng engineers comes despite many chartered engineers eventually carrying out work that could be done by incorporated engineers (IEng) who have BEng or BSc degrees, added Bell.

'Incorporated doesn't mean anything to most consultants, ' she said.

Another regional liaison officer said that potential incorporated engineers were often only considered for technician roles because of a Consultants do not understand the value of incorporated engineers mixture of ignorance and snobbery about the qualification.

BEng and BSc graduates, he said, are often also taken on with the expectation they will complete masters courses while in employment before becoming chartered.

As a result, the number of engineers training to become incorporated has become 'minuscule, ' he added.

Bell said that consultants often favoured chartered engineers above IEngs because they could earn them higher margins. This is because, although they are paid more, fees they earn are disproportionately high.

Incorporated engineers can be charged out at £25 to £30 an hour whereas chartered engineers are booked out at £50 to £55.

Consultants denied they were creating their own skills shortages. They said there was a shortage of incorporated engineers because most graduates they took on wanted to be chartered.

'It is not that no-one recognises the IEng - it's just that the Institution has really complicated the route for both graduates and nongraduates, ' said Mott MacDonald group learning and development manager Nina Merchant.

'You have got to think realistically why any graduate would want to go IEng when they can go CEng, ' she said.

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