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Talent spotting

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Is it a surprise that 54% of civil engineers say they are not looking for a new job right now? Is it a surprise to hear civil engineers cite variety of work, career prospects, location and a feeling that their efforts are valued as the reason?

Well, on both counts, the answer for me is no, not really.

The market is very active and with infrastructure investment pouring into sectors all around us, civil engineering offers a huge amount of life and career opportunity.

Clearly there is a huge raft of the profession benefiting from this buoyant time - civil engineers who are genuinely happy doing what they are doing and who are more than happy to continue doing it.

News that one in four of you considers that you already have your dream job is great to hear.

But whether this and the fact that the majority of civil engineers are not seeking a new job necessarily makes them content in their current role is a much bigger question. Changing jobs takes a huge amount of energy and effort. And I know from personal experience that changing career takes even more.

Certainly, salaries are climbing - young engineers saw a 22% increase over the last three years - and 37% of engineers report that employment packages have improved.

But it is early for us to believe that the profession has become a great place to work.

After all, we still see a disturbingly large 46% of the profession telling us that they are actively seeking something new.

On the one hand it is worrying to hear that the industry is still failing to respond to the demands of its best talent - its competitive edge - in terms of prospects, value and reward.

On the other hand, it is great news that such a large proportion of the civil engineering profession is now sufficiently motivated to seek out new job opportunities as the only sure way to test your value and ability.

Then again, what really drives happiness? Apparently, if you ask people what is the single thing that would make them happy, the overwhelming majority will say; winning the Lottery (although how many of these people actually do the Lottery is unknown).

It doesn't take a psychologist to point out that this is, of course, rubbish. And no matter what the state of the market, very few people will accept or quit a job simply on the basis of money.

While money is a necessary and major part of modern life, what really makes people happy is much more straightforward.

It basically comes down to how you measure up in your own mind to the expectations and goals that you (and your work and social environment) set yourself.

Bearing this in mind, the list of alternative dream jobs this week makes interesting reading if only for its clear lack of reality. The list suggests to me that while most civil engineers want more from their jobs, they are unlikely to throw in the engineering towel for another career.

Our survey indicates that, while engineers have every right to push their expectations and goals, they seem reluctant to do so. But to compete, employers must push the best talent. The ball is therefore now firmly in their court to convince an eager, enthusiastic and talented profession that switching jobs is easier and more rewarding than becoming a lion tamer (or even a porn star).

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