04/06/2014 - 13:44

Engineering job outcomes

04/06/2014 - 13:44

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A new joint venture between the tertiary education sector and industry is seeking to bring engineering firms and local graduates together in an effort to streamline employment opportunities.

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Jeremy Leggoe has been working for 25 years to prepare engineering students for work. Photo: Attila Csaszar.

A new joint venture between the tertiary education sector and industry is seeking to bring engineering firms and local graduates together in an effort to streamline employment opportunities.

SPIE Oil & Gas services development director Steve Jones, who established the initiative, called Cusp, said the arrangement was cost effective for clients as it allowed them to trial students as a possible future employees, and take on students in a more balanced manner.

Last week, Business News reported on a number of University of Western Australia engineering graduates who, after more than a year of unsuccessful job applications, took to St Georges Terrace with placards advertising their ability for work.

“There’s possibly 10,000 (WA engineering) students and they all hit the Chevrons and Woodsides and Worley Parsons of the world all at the same time with obviously very limited opportunities, and it’s difficult for companies because you can’t time things to occur in December through to February,” Mr Jones told Business News.

Through Cusp, students carry out simpler work for companies that is often outsourced overseas.

Mr Jones said students who engaged on a casual basis for 10-15 hours per week over the five years of their degree could potentially build up a valuable base of knowledge.

“This is equivalent to two years’ full-time work, making them far more cost effective when employed as a full-time graduate engineer,” he said.

Mr Jones said Cusp had so far placed about 20 UWA students in paid casual positions, and had plans for substantial growth.

“We’re hoping to grow that significantly and we’re having some very encouraging discussions,” he said.

“There hasn’t been a company we’ve spoken to that hasn’t shown interest.

“At the risk of perhaps sounding arrogant or ignorant, I’m not sure which, I feel it’s a program that could grow and make a significant contribution of getting graduates into the workforce.”

Mr Jones suspects the initiative is the first of its kind in Australia, although it does draw on more established programs that also prepare engineering students for work.

UWA’s 25-year-old Co-operative Education for Enterprise Development works in tandem with companies that seek help from UWA to solve problems and research projects.

Companies typically offer 25 to 30 projects that are very popular with final year students who apply for the roles as if they would a job. If successful, they are paid to work onsite over summer and continue work for university credit during the year.

“There is a definite business need that drives the project,” CEED director Jeremy Leggoe said.

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