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Job Contraction Globally Creates Work Experience Catch 22 for Graduates

Posted on October 21, 2011
Filed Under Economics, Europe, Jobs, Training | Comments Off on Job Contraction Globally Creates Work Experience Catch 22 for Graduates

Engineering undergraduates demand work experience

A common refrain from Graduates seeking careers in Engineering? “It’s not fair!”

Engineering undergraduates demand more work experience, graduate schemes and graduate training, however throughout Europe and The United States, the opportunity to gain work experience through graduate jobs, i.e. internships has contracted along a similar trajectory as experienced, senior level, full-time openings.

A thousand engineering undergraduates from the UK’s top universities were surveyed recently by the leading graduate jobs site,, and their No 1 problem with employers was the lack of work experience available to them.

The survey results were revealed at the annual TARGETjobs Engineering Forum, held at Imperial College on 28 July and attended by regular engineering employers like BP, Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy, Unilever and E.ON.

In a difficult job market, the engineering students surveyed felt that the glaring lack of work experience opportunities made it much more difficult to get a job interview or offer in their final year. They did all the right things by attending campus presentations and careers fairs but when it came to the crunch, they felt that employers favored students who had substantial relevant work experience. Many pointed out the irony of the situation where they were encouraged to get work experience by the same organizations who didn’t actually offer it to them.

A mechanical engineering student from Imperial College said:

Graduates need a chance to gain experience although they are being asked to have experience before they’re considered for a job. This isn’t fair.

And an electrical engineering student from Loughborough said:

Most students have no experience but most of the jobs ask for experience. It’s completely unfair and pushes a lot of people out of the engineering market.

This student’s fears are confirmed elsewhere in the survey, where 90 per cent of respondents said they knew other students who were actively considering working outside engineering after graduation – usually in the City where banks value the analytical skills of engineers. With the country’s focus on regeneration of the manufacturing sector, this is could have a negative effect on growth.

Students also called for more employers on campus and more direct involvement by employers in coursework. They are desperately serious about becoming more-rounded engineers but they want a level playing field and the chance to prove their worth.

Chris Phillips, Publishing Director at GTI Media and Chair of the TARGETjobs Engineering Forum, said:

I have never experienced such a consistent response from a student survey before. The majority of respondents were amazed and appalled at the lack of work experience being offered and the insistence by some employers that experience was a pre-requisite for applicants. The situation is improving, however, and most of the employers attending the Forum had already committed to extending their placement programmes.

• The surveys were live for six weeks from the beginning of June.
• There were 944 respondents to the student survey and 342 respondents to the recent graduate survey.
• is the leading graduate jobsite in the country, which contains over 500 graduate employer profiles and over 20,000 articles offering careers advice.
• It is published by GTI Media, the largest graduate careers media group in the world, which was founded in 1988 and currently employs 250 people across nine countries.
• GTI Media also produces a wide range of sector-specific publications, both in print and online, written by experts in their sectors helping graduates secure jobs.
• GTI Media distributes its products to universities across the UK and Ireland and is the publishing partner of 25 leading university careers services including London, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, Edinburgh, Warwick, Manchester, Nottingham, Durham and Trinity College Dublin.
• GTI is also the official publishing partner of the Association of Higher Education Careers Services, the professional association of careers services in Ireland, producing products under the gradireland brand.
• For more information on GTI Media visit


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