Or, as an alternative view...
There are not a huge number of companies in Devon employing undergraduates and graduates, but there are a few of us around (and yes, several of us do manufacture and export, very succesfully!). If you are after paid experience it might well be hard, because two days a week doesn't add much value to the company. But if you are prepared to ask for an internship (maybe to work on a specific problem) I would have thought you should have half a chance.
Keep browing the job sites to see who's taking on locally, but also the local news pages to see which companies are manufacturing - it doesn't have to be engineering, there are loads of e.g. food producers around here who are maintaining their own PLC based control systems. And perhaps ask if you can have a site visit even if they can't offer you anything now - they might like you so much that they offer you something anyway, or at least you might find you pick up a recommendation.
Don't be put off if you don't get a reply, just move on to the next company. Perhaps try again once after about a month. And you are definitely doing the right thing trying to find experience - you are quite right: a new graduate is not an engineer, and it is engineers most companies want. Particularly down here where, sadly, most companies don't have big enough teams to support training programmes.
However, do check how you are applying to them - e.g. you MUST make sure your spelling and grammer is spot on, even when you post a message on a forum
- you might find firms less likely to take you on if you spell "engineer" wrong! It really matters, the feeling (rightly or wrongly) is "if they can't be bothered to check their application thoroughly, will they bother to check their work thoroughly?" (There are prabably spelling and grammer mistakes in this posting too, but then I'm not loooking for a job
Finally, the Devon and Cornwall IET Local Network has just started its season of events, come along to a few and try and chat to a few people at pre-meeting refreshments - you never know, you might meet someone who knows someone who can help. (And hopefully you might enjoy the event too!) We are one of the more active LNs in the country, so there must be a few jobs around here!
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMIhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy
"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert