The E3 Academy involves three universities (Bristol, Newcastle and Nottingham) and six companies (Emerson – Control Techniques, Cummins Generator Technologies, Edwards, Parker SSD, Ricardo and Siemens Industry) working together to address the graduate recruitment crisis in the Electrical Energy Engineering (E3) sector
The company partners have recognised that a major inhibiting factor to their business development is the lack of high-quality motivated graduates, who can become the leaders of the future. Faced with a worsening situation due to the recruitment requirements of new application areas, such as automotive, aerospace and renewables, the Academy was formed in 2007 with the specific aim of boosting the numbers of E3 undergraduate students.
The industrial partners provide a scholarship package worth around £5000 per year to E3 scholars about to commence relevant IET-accredited courses at selected UK universities. In effect graduate recruitment has become undergraduate recruitment, with E3 scholars being selected by their sponsoring companies in parallel with the university admissions process. While this approach requires some upfront investment, the benefits are considerable. During their university course E3 scholars spend at least 24 weeks on IET-approved vacation work placements, so they are well positioned to make an immediate impact after graduation.
The IET underpins all of the E3 Academy’s activities by providing quality assurance of both university courses and work placements. The E3 Academy was established using the IET Power Academy as a template, though the E3 Academy is self-financing. During the early stages of development the E3 Academy derived enormous benefit from the wise advice of the IET’s Agnes Segal, who attended the start-up meeting and subsequent annual E3 Council meetings until her retirement.
The E3 Academy is an exemplar of UK companies with a recognised skill shortage taking responsibility for the health of the skill supply chain. By offering scholarships to study E3 subjects at university, companies are encouraging more school leavers to pursue these subjects, rather than simply bemoaning the lack of appropriately-educated graduates.
Since 2009 a total of 22 E3 scholars have graduated from the member universities. The majority of these graduates have obtained first or upper-second class degrees and have joined their sponsoring companies, though a significant number are pursuing PhD programmes in association with their sponsoring companies. At the E3 Academy Graduate Presentation Event, taking place on 13 November 2012 at IET London: Savoy Place, we will be acknowledging the achievement of the E3 Graduates, not only in obtaining their university degrees, but also by participating in parallel company work placements. We expect that around 14 graduates will be attending and will be presented with certificates by Nigel Fine.
A further advantage of participation in the E3 Academy is that the graduates have the rudiments of a professional network including peers who have studied at other universities or have been sponsored by other companies. All E3 scholars meet up at the annual E3 Summer School, where they participate in a range of technical and team-building activities designed to educate and to bond.
The E3 Academy offers a long-term strategy for improving the quantity and quality of graduate recruitment, but it does require commitment from the sponsoring companies: it is not a quick-fix.
In the recent difficult economic climate it has been extremely difficult to justify such commitment, so the business leaders involved in the Academy have demonstrated vision and confidence in the future. They are now reaping the reward of their initiative with a steady supply of capable graduates.
Juergen Maier, Managing Director, Siemens Industry: “We will continue to support the E3 Academy as a vital programme to increase the number of graduates coming through in electrical energy engineering – it’s an important and growing area that can only help to strengthen our skill base in the UK.”
Mark Bulanda, President of Emerson-Control Techniques: "Control Techniques’ success relies on our ability to constantly develop new engineering talent. Three of our E3 scholars graduated in 2011 and the company was able to offer full time employment to them all. Academy scholars not only learn a fantastic set of skills at university, but also gain invaluable work experience with their sponsoring company."
Further information about the E3 Academy is available on their website.