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Testing times for tomorrow's employers


In his trenchant comments on the content of present-day civil engineering degree courses (NCE 15 June), Cecil Balmond expressed a growing concern of design managers over the lack of analytical skills of new graduates.

Like many large engineering companies nowadays, my employer runs a series of graduate-assessment days each year. These comprise a mixture of psychometric, judgment and technical tests and interviews.

At a recent session involving 15 candidates, all did well in the motivation and judgment topics, but only two passed the technical test. Of the remainder, 10 could not could state the weight of a man in Newtons or calculate the second moment of area of a rectangle.

Almost out of desperation we now send the technical tests out beforehand and rely on the interviews to make our selections. The testing programme, designed jointly by our HR department and external recruitment consultants, is intended, principally, to identify the senior managers of tomorrow and no doubt reects the aspirations of the candidates themselves and perceived company needs.

But where are our inspection and assessment engineers and structural analysts coming from?

Leigh Jones (M), 14 Southville Road, Surrey, KT7 0UL

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