The delicate balance between engineering education and work experience has proven to be a conundrum in multiple engineering industries, where jobs are not being found. What engineering education should students then be getting to secure their engineering job in the industry? That is the question a lot of students have been asking, due to not finding employment in the industries they studied for.
Shady Hashem, a student from Egypt, travelled to Canada to study at the Halifax Dalhousie University and then tried to find a job at the University of Calgary. He admitted to applying to over 50 jobs in Canada but hasn’t found success in employment thus far.
Hashem said: “I talk to a lot of engineers, and the expected time to get a job is between six months and a year. I’m applying everywhere, but I haven’t heard back from anybody yet, not even an email that says: ‘Sorry this position has been filled.’ That’s very frustrating.”
Hashem is looking for a job in the oil industry, however, the Conference Board of Canda released a report saying that the demand for employment is double the national average of the last 17 years in civil, mechanical and computer engineering. Thus, the lack of jobs might only be in selective industries.
Colleen Bangs is the manager of career services at the University of Calgary and said that one-third of the university’s 659 engineering students have not been employed since graduating.
Bangs said: “Something I’ve noticed, particularly in this last semester, is that there’s a bit of an impending feeling of doom.”
The report as published by CTVNews also states, that the University of Alberta has revealed that 70 percent of the 1,300 engineering students have in fact found employment in engineering industries. These revelations lead critics to believe that the situation is not as bad as it seems. Could it be that the University of Calgary isn’t as respected as other universities are? Is their engineering education good enough?
In South Africa, a known civil engineering hiring slump has occurred since the end of the Fifa World Cup in 2010. The Sunday Times recently reported on a civil engineering graduate named Mfuneko Nomvalo, who has returned home after studying due to not finding employment.
Nomvalo told the Sunday Times: “It’s been five years since I graduated, but finding work has been the hardest thing for me. I thought I had left and progressed in life. I’ve worked 18 months on contract on local construction jobs and it’s not what I thought it would be like…”
How does a future engineering professional find the right education institution fit for them? Finding a university that will guarantee a hire in the industry, is a tall order it seems. What needs to happen in engineering education to produce more skilled, work-ready engineers?
The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Institute of Technology, Steve Mackay, addresses the topic of engineering education that works in the thirteenth episode of the Engineering News Network.
Mackay said: “We really need to focus on the basics, which is, having outstanding industry experienced instructors involved with the students. That’s what really matters…people who have industry experience.”
Regardless of the university, Mackay seems to believe that as long as engineers equip themselves with the necessary skills, they would be able to find employment in the industry. He believes:
The typical things you want to teach the students are things such as being entrepreneurial, creativity, being able to think outside the box, working in teams – the instructor and the students – forget about the good old professor on the stage it’s actually the professor and the lecturers and instructors all working together on the project. There’s no more guru that you have to listen to quietly, it’s actually all about dynamic teamwork.
Other skills that are required are things like project management, which often as engineers and technologists we are involved with in our day to day jobs.
Communication skills ; reading and writing. Engineers need to jack up their communication skills.