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The Letters


ICE must help graduates more

Having followed the debate on the age of reaching Chartered Membership I have become increasingly concerned that we are missing the point. The ICE's main objective must be to set appropriate standards for Chartered and Incorporated Engineers. These may be raised to take mature candidates into account but should not be reduced simply to allow fast track graduates to qualify in a paper chasing exercise.

Some graduates can quickly learn the necessary technical, financial and contractual skills and the 'mechanics' and 'tools' of management. The professional exam has always recognised that an engineer also needs wider awareness of society, politics and the environment. While I by no means advocate time serving, the development of this awareness and other 'people' skills requires a longer period of experience for many engineers and it should then be a continuous development throughout their career.

Well motivated graduates will always gain the relevant training and experience to become Chartered in good time. Some may have difficulty finding training to achieve all the core objectives, but the routes to membership are now more flexible than they have ever been. It is my view that candidates are more likely to be hesitant to take the exam for one of the following reasons:

the work required in one's own time is onerous

there is a perception that once Chartered, training and development ceases

employers provide no real incentive to achieve a professional qualification because staff are able to reach responsible positions without them

graduates do not feel confident or mature enough, particularly when they compare themselves with senior colleagues.

If fewer training agreements are being taken up, perhaps the ICE needs to consider why and give more support and encouragement to employers, otherwise graduates certainly will become disillusioned because they are not getting adequate experience to become Chartered by a reasonable age.

Andrew Howe (M), 5 Park Avenue, New Street, Shrewsbury SY3 8JG

I am surprised by recent moves to

'fast-track' candidates by altering the current Professional Review system. Rather I believe that it is the commitment of employers to training their new graduates and providing incentives that is key to fast-tracking graduates. Under the existing system I was able to achieve MICE status four years after graduation. I relied on the training agreement with my employer Gibb to ensure I gained a range of experience, including an invaluable one year secondment to Balfour Beatty. Such exchanges must be encouraged and maintained by the system.

If the ICE wishes to attract more quality candidates, strenuous efforts must be directed to encourage candidates from broader fields to apply. Many excellent potential candidates that I know from geotechnical and development backgrounds are put off the CPR because they mistakenly believe that undue lengths are required to 'fit the mould', such as obtaining reinforced concrete design experience.

Much more communication is required from the Institution regarding the wide range of backgrounds of actual successful candidates.

This would dispel scepticism and encourage more candidates to take CPR rather than turning to other institutions. If the ICE were to advertise the quality and breadth of its new members, MICE would be perceived as a hallmark of quality, and not be written off as archaic and unnecessary.

Clare Glackin (M),

Thank goodness for Alex Bywaters (NCE 24 April) who recognises that there are qualified members of the ICE other than Chartered, who do responsible work. I know of Associate Members of this Institution who are responsible for several millions of pounds of budgets, and who act in a very responsible way in carrying out their duties professionally.

Graduates worried about the new Chartered route to membership should consider the alternative grades as being:

eminently achievable without deviation from their chosen route

well respected, and considered as qualified by their own Council.

The Institution should take the opportunity to promote the Associate and Technician grades of membership. It should capitalise on the vast potential membership out there by vigorously promoting these grades, and welcoming them into the fold.

Too often the Chartered member is the one thought of and spoken about. I look to these at the highest level who represent us all to recognise this and take the necessary action.

David W Fulton (AM), 12 Crossways, Houston, Renfrewshire PA6 7DG

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