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Topic Title: Graduated and unemployed
Topic Summary: Where do i go from here?
Created On: 14 March 2012 04:12 AM
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 15 September 2013 11:43 AM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
In fact, engineering - as should be clear from the discussions throughout these forums - must be about the most "open" of all the professions. There are no qualification requirements, no "right schools", let alone any requirement to attend a certain number of posh dinners. You don't need to be registered with anyone to practice as an engineer, and there are plenty of professional engineers around without a degree.


This is disputable. Not too long ago my son was at an interview that involved a 'posh' dinner. He later found out that the company liked to recruit people using trial-by-sherry type methods. More than once he has been questioned about which school he attended. It's probably a more common interview question than you think it is. The internet now means that employers can find out about an obscure school hundreds of miles away to get an idea of its characteristics.

Originally posted by: westonpa
It would be interesting to have a comparison between similar companies which run closed shops and those who run open shops and see which performs better in business etc.


That would be an interesting research topic but it has to be constrained. It's not sensible having an engineering company employing highly skilled people in the same study as the local chip shop.
 15 September 2013 12:14 PM
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Zuiko

Posts: 518
Joined: 14 September 2010

an engineering company and the local chip shop are not "similar companies" arey they?
 17 September 2013 01:14 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: westonpa
I worked for a company which has a policy of recruiting 'friends, family' etc., of employees and actively encourages it by giving around £350 if someone is then employed. For them this cuts down on their recruitment costs...


You've hit the nail on the head there. As we've discussed here before, recruiting is phenomenally expensive and time consuming, so anything eng mgrs can do to get rid of this they will. This is quite different to saying "anyone not in our gang is not the sort of person we want" which is what I understand by a "closed shop".

And fully agree that recruiting only people you know probably doesn't find you the best possible people. But given a good enough person now or the best person in a year's time (and after large sums of money) sometimes, as Paul the alien says, you just have to roll the dice...life was so much simpler in the days when an advert in "Electronics Times" and "Electronics Weekly" was read by everyone vaguely looking for a job (in the electronics sector at least).

I've no doubt a few recruiting managers are daft enough to worry which school someone went to - most recruiters I work with or otherwise talk to a) know it doesn't make a blind bit of difference and b) are struggling enough to find anybody remotely qualified and experienced to apply for any engineering job to be bothered about trivia like that.

But I would still say to anyone who is being regularly turned down for engineering jobs: don't complain about closed shops, instead get some good confidential unbiased advice (e.g. from recruitment agencies if you can find a helpful one or, better, the IET Mentoring service - NOT from your friends or family!!!) as to why you're not offering employers what they're looking for and what you can do about it. We are all desperate to find good people!

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Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 21 September 2013 09:58 PM
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kengreen

Posts: 400
Joined: 15 April 2013

I will be a bit haughty here.

If an employer turns down my application on the grounds that I did not attend the "right" school then I 'm quite sure that I don't wish to work for such a bigoted and Ignorant fool.

Ken Green
 22 September 2013 07:21 AM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

Originally posted by: kengreen
If an employer turns down my application on the grounds that I did not attend the "right" school then I 'm quite sure that I don't wish to work for such a bigoted and Ignorant fool.


The harsh reality is that 90% of the deciding factors when it comes to employing people in 90% of places is down to whether your face fits the employer's prejudices.

In the morning following the aforementioned posh dinner, my son was contacted by a secretary from the company telling him not to attend the interview. A sure indication that the management didn't like some aspect of him so didn't think it was worth their time interviewing him.

Did he talk too technical at the table? Was it his choice of drink? Could it be the college he attended wasn't highly thought of? Who knows.
 27 September 2013 05:02 PM
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jimflounders1984

Posts: 7
Joined: 08 October 2012

Maybe try getting your CV edited by a professional company, costs around £60 and makes a massive difference
 11 November 2013 07:24 PM
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CelticHeathen

Posts: 46
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Originally posted by: amillar

You've hit the nail on the head there. As we've discussed here before, recruiting is phenomenally expensive and time consuming, so anything eng mgrs can do to get rid of this they will. This is quite different to saying "anyone not in our gang is not the sort of person we want" which is what I understand by a "closed shop".

But I would still say to anyone who is being regularly turned down for engineering jobs: don't complain about closed shops, instead get some good confidential unbiased advice (e.g. from recruitment agencies if you can find a helpful one or, better, the IET Mentoring service - NOT from your friends or family!!!) as to why you're not offering employers what they're looking for and what you can do about it. We are all desperate to find good people!


With regards to those 2 paragraphs, I can speak from experience that it is very much a closed shop, my interpretation of the term being that the world is your oyster, IF you have 5yrs or more experience in a specialised discipline.

For those of us with 2yrs post-grad experience or less, however, the reality is so much more hostile. I myself am a currently out of work engineer, with 2 degrees and 1yr experience, living in the Oil Capital of Europe, but despite the media reports of how healthy the state of play is, companies won't even give you a look-in unless you have a wealth of experience and/or know the right people. This does NOT bode well for the country's next generation of aspirational young engineers.

When national statistics show that employment rates for engineering graduates is only around 53%, this is made to sound all the more ridiculous, especially when contrasted with the regular bleating from industry players and institutes alike that there are "not enough graduates, can't get the staff, we need more engineers, blah blah blah".
 11 November 2013 09:42 PM
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Zuiko

Posts: 518
Joined: 14 September 2010

A lot of graduates expect to work as engineers straight out of college.

In my experience, employers would rather take on people at an apprentice grade, then if and when that apprentice shows aptitude, gradually promote them through the ranks.

Having a degree will certainly help, but without work experience (unless you exude genius, and some do) then you are starting at the bottom.


I'd suggest applying for craft trainee positions (fitter etc.) and then applying internally for vacancies after you get a good reputation.



(I once worked for a DNO, and the District Engineer started with the company digging the roads; and to this day, during faults or standby he will get his overalls on and get in the joint hole and help dig!)

Edited: 11 November 2013 at 11:44 PM by Zuiko
 20 November 2013 10:40 PM
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CelticHeathen

Posts: 46
Joined: 10 December 2012

Originally posted by: Zuiko

A lot of graduates expect to work as engineers straight out of college.

In my experience, employers would rather take on people at an apprentice grade, then if and when that apprentice shows aptitude, gradually promote them through the ranks.

Having a degree will certainly help, but without work experience (unless you exude genius, and some do) then you are starting at the bottom.

I'd suggest applying for craft trainee positions (fitter etc.) and then applying internally for vacancies after you get a good reputation.

(I once worked for a DNO, and the District Engineer started with the company digging the roads; and to this day, during faults or standby he will get his overalls on and get in the joint hole and help dig!)


Well, I'm not one of those "graduates" who expected to walk into paradise. I was a working-class kid who took the leap of being the first in my family to do a degree. I knew what I was doing, no-one twisted my arm, but nothing prepared people like myself for what was to come...

It's easy for people like yourself to make suggestions, based on experiences people had 20yrs ago (you sound, whether intentionally or not, like the "in our day, we did this...") when the economy was both healthy and still intact and we didn't have massive, unsustainably high immigration. The reality, however, is that people like myself (I have degree AND experience, but still out of work) have seen the goalposts constantly move, with employers expecting more for less.

My generation have also seen the COST of an education rise exponentially, but the VALUE of one decrease by the same order of magnitude. We have debts of £30000 or much more and are being tossed on the scrapheap of a profession that has seen its manufacturing base decimated, wages stagnate and its best workers disappear into retirement, or move abroad.

Like many of my contemporaries, I would gladly "roll the sleeves up" and get stuck in, if only the remaining companies would give us the chance, but when even "Graduate" vacancies demand 2yrs experience straight off the bat (thus - deliberately? - excluding even those of us who got a 1yr placement between our penultimate and final year) and favour foreign graduates, what hope is there?

I revile in disgust at the last 2 generations, in their utter greed and short-termism, and look with foreboding at the future my little ones are inheriting.
 20 November 2013 11:01 PM
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Zuiko

Posts: 518
Joined: 14 September 2010

Originally posted by: CelticHeathen
It's easy for people like yourself to make suggestions, based on experiences people had 20yrs ago (you sound, whether intentionally or not, like the "in our day, we did this...") when the economy was both healthy and still intact and we didn't have massive, unsustainably high immigration. The reality, however, is that people like myself (I have degree AND experience, but still out of work) have seen the goalposts constantly move, with employers expecting more for less.


I don't really know what to make of that.

When I needed a job I applied for a job as an adult trainee electrical fitter with a DNO. Sometimes, you have to take two steps back to go one step forward.

In my own time and at my own expense I did a HNC (no holidays for two years because the day-release was taken from my annual leave); and then a BEng with the OU (ditto with the holidays - annual leave taken to do assignments and attend summer school). I know you appreciate how much time an OU degree takes when you are working full time.



I've worked in the exact same economic climate as you have. And worse. When the last terrible recession hit in the early 90s and there were no jobs, I went to Australia to work (I was 22).

Nobody owes you a job. We may not like it, but if highly educated, multi-lingual young eastern Europeans are prepared to travel a thousand miles to work, you are going to have to be better than them. That is the way of the world now. It's not great for the indiginous population, but that is the way it is, and the immigrants are here to stay.


If you can't get a graduate job, get on the tools as an apprentice. Apply for promotion within. Management will notice the skilled engineer in you.

Edited: 20 November 2013 at 11:17 PM by Zuiko
 21 November 2013 03:31 AM
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Rowsell34

Posts: 14
Joined: 08 November 2013

This is a very bad thing, you should reduce your request
 21 November 2013 03:33 AM
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Rowsell34

Posts: 14
Joined: 08 November 2013

This is a very bad thing, you should reduce your request
 21 November 2013 03:37 AM
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Rowsell34

Posts: 14
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This is a very bad thing, you should reduce your request
 23 November 2013 11:27 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: CelticHeathen
Like many of my contemporaries, I would gladly "roll the sleeves up" and get stuck in, if only the remaining companies would give us the chance, but when even "Graduate" vacancies demand 2yrs experience straight off the bat (thus - deliberately? - excluding even those of us who got a 1yr placement between our penultimate and final year) and favour foreign graduates, what hope is there?

I revile in disgust at the last 2 generations, in their utter greed and short-termism, and look with foreboding at the future my little ones are inheriting.


Firstly, on another of your points, a "closed shop" is one in which rules or laws prevent you from working, NOT one in which it is hard to find work (which certainly is the case here). I know it doesn't practically feel different, but it is a very important difference. To go away from your specific case for a moment, I have seen really quite a lot of people over the years complain of the "closed shop" or "old boy's club" when actually they aren't getting jobs because they come over at interview as an arrogant pain in the backside - it is very frustrating for the recruiter and one does wish there was someone to give them a good shaking! (It really is very difficult giving feedback to such candidates, but as a hint if more than one employer turns anyone down saying "you won't fit in" it's well worth them having a quiet word with their most honest friend to see if they do come over a bit...non-optimally. BEFORE blaming it on their school, colour, accent, fashion sense or whatever.)

Anyway, on to the main point: yes, it is 30 years since I graduated and had to apply for my first job. BUT I now recruit graduates (and have done for rather more than 20 years), so I would hope my views would be of value here since I am the type of person you are trying to understand. I have written this many, many, many times on these forums and elsewhere, but it obviously still needs to be said again:

1. A graduate with less than about two years experience is not an engineer, and never has been. Just like any other profession.
2. Since the late 1970s (when I started my apprenticeship) the big engineering departments have gone. Engineering teams are now tiny in the vast majority of companies, which means sparing engineers to supervise graduate trainees becomes practically impossible. This is why companies are looking for staff who can hit the ground running.

These two combined are, in my opinion, the single biggest challenge facing the engineering profession when it comes to skills shortages - the challenge is NOT (at the moment) how to get more school leavers into engineering degrees, it is how to get more graduates into work. But employers simply cannot (and, in the real world, will not) solve these problems individually by themselves. Berate us as greedy and short termist if you like, but study the economics of keeping an engineering team financially viable in the UK first. UK engineering companies are first and foremost trying to survive (or trying to stop their parent companies moving their skills to, say, Thailand); right at this moment sorting out the UK's problems 10 years hence cannot, sadly, be realistically high on the agenda (however much it is on all our minds).

There is no point (before anyone asks) waiting for the government to help with this either; whatever one's individual politics the fact is that since the 1970s as a nation we have consistently elected non-interventionist governments. For example the recent Perkins report basically (to my reading) said that government should tell industry to solve the problem. Which is not surprising.

So if individual companies can't solve the problem (because of, basically, lack of money), and government can't solve the problem (because of a mandate from the electorate to keep out of it), who can? I would suggest that it can only be industry collectively, which means that organisations such as the IET need to take genuine leadership action to - let's be honest - force us employers into a room kicking and screaming to collectively come up with a genuine, sustainable, workable and useful plan for our own good! Not a few "flagship" inspirational schemes but a solid plan.

Finally - and this may in fact be my final posting on these forums* - don't for heaven's sake knock the one year's work experience. No, it does not make you an engineer in any shape or form. But it does make you far, far more employable. The fact is that graduates with that experience both come across vastly better at interview, and fit in much better in the first six months of employment. Plus even if there's only a 10% chance that your experience employer takes you on after you graduate, that's still very good odds in today's market. In fact I regularly see graduates with just that experience getting several job offers, sometimes even before they graduate.

Yes, it's tough for engineering graduates and employers. And it has been for the last 30 years. And it is REALLY hard not to get into a "blame" mindset. But it is vital (VITAL!) not to if you are to stay employable. (For example, given that we pick up our emotions from those around us, keeping away from forums with a general tone of whingeing might be a good idea )

As ever, good luck. Even if I'm not here I'm sure you can find me for contact if there's anything I can do to help.

*I've said that several times over the last few years, but there does now finally seem to be a viable and (IMO) much better alternative IET forum on linkedin.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 27 November 2013 08:23 AM
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jencam

Posts: 608
Joined: 06 May 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
These two combined are, in my opinion, the single biggest challenge facing the engineering profession when it comes to skills shortages - the challenge is NOT (at the moment) how to get more school leavers into engineering degrees, it is how to get more graduates into work. But employers simply cannot (and, in the real world, will not) solve these problems individually by themselves. Berate us as greedy and short termist if you like, but study the economics of keeping an engineering team financially viable in the UK first. UK engineering companies are first and foremost trying to survive (or trying to stop their parent companies moving their skills to, say, Thailand); right at this moment sorting out the UK's problems 10 years hence cannot, sadly, be realistically high on the agenda (however much it is on all our minds).


If what you are saying really is true then it raises the question whether STEM ambassadors are acting in an unethical manner by trying to encourage children to enter a career that is struggling - or even dying - and all the obsession in recent years with STEM subjects is actually going down the wrong avenue. You mentioned that engineering departments in the 1970s were larger than those of today but back then we didn't have this obsession with STEM like we have now; secondary schools didn't teach technology subjects and science was optional in KS4; and teaching science and technology in primary schools was seen as very eccentric or inappropriate.

It's also noteworthy that not many home educated children are interested in traditional science and engineering nor do they want a career in them. There is a lot more interest in business and entrepreneural activities.

There is no point (before anyone asks) waiting for the government to help with this either; whatever one's individual politics the fact is that since the 1970s as a nation we have consistently elected non-interventionist governments. For example the recent Perkins report basically (to my reading) said that government should tell industry to solve the problem. Which is not surprising.


I somewhat disagree with you. The past is not always a good prediction of the future and societies are known to go through phases and crazes. Certain situations are known to alter the public mood - for example the torrent of eastern European immigrants has fuelled support for UKIP whereas in the mid 1990s the EU wasn't high on many people's agenda which resulted in very little public support for withdrawal. I suspect that high energy prices could be the next influential force.

I haven't had time to read the Perkins report but as it's written by somebody close to the government then it's unlikely that it will be highly critical of the government.

So if individual companies can't solve the problem (because of, basically, lack of money), and government can't solve the problem (because of a mandate from the electorate to keep out of it), who can? I would suggest that it can only be industry collectively, which means that organisations such as the IET need to take genuine leadership action to - let's be honest - force us employers into a room kicking and screaming to collectively come up with a genuine, sustainable, workable and useful plan for our own good! Not a few "flagship" inspirational schemes but a solid plan.


My son thinks that the IET is too spineless and impotent to come up with a solution. A new organisation needs to be started from first principles.
 31 March 2014 10:44 AM
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hjeff045

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You can get your dream job by just register on our website. No need to worry about the jobs.

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IET » Student and apprentice discussion forum » Graduated and unemployed

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