One provider of high tech design and detailing software believes the gaps in an engineer's education arise not pre-graduation but post, in the first few years of a graduate's professional life.
This is when the acquisition of specialist skills can reasonably be expected to begin, building on the basics learned at university and increasingly at home, says software specialist CADS marketing director Ian Chambers.
Employers shirking their responsibility to train in the use of their company's chosen software applications are more to blame for gaps in the knowledge of 20-something engineers than are their college lecturers.
'Degrees provide a good foundation but this has to be built upon, especially when you are talking IT skills,' says Chambers. 'There is a feeling that bright young things don't need the training, that left alone with a manual they'll soon fathom it out and put the software to best use,' Chambers says.
'Our software is user friendly yet complex, however. It really can bestow considerable benefits but only in the hands of designers who know how to use it.'
Helen Gilfoy is CADS' training manager. She says: 'The lack of investment in IT training is historic: we're still finding people who have no knowledge of basic housekeeping, like keeping their hard disks in good order, systems up to scratch and proper back up.'
The increased use of networks makes good IT skills even more important, she says. 'But things are getting better. Most of our customers now appreciate that, if they are investing in software, they should also invest in the training that means the software can be fully exploited.'
CADS has three trainers available to provide on-site training for up to six delegates on a one-to-one up to a one-to-six basis. Course prices range from £350 to £500/day and induration from half a day up to three days, depending on the software application.
'A number of colleges run 10 week inexpensive part time courses on our software,' says Gilfoy. 'We also sell our software directly to colleges and universities at a discounted price for use by students during their courses. For instance, it might be used to check design solutions that have been arrived at manually.'
'This might help prospective designers graduate as rather more rounded people,' Chambers says. 'But it does not reduce the onus on employers to train their young staff members properly.'