Young people contemplating a career in engineering must be careful not to paint themselves into a corner and choose a qualification where there are too many people for the number of jobs available but rather choose a qualification that will ensure they can fill positions where a skills shortage exists, says Marna Thompson branch manager at Network Engineering, a division of Network Recruitment.
Various opinions from the recruitment industry signify both a skills shortage and a lack of projects. "There is in fact a shortage of skilled engineers with certain qualifications and expertise, such as too many technician-level graduates with a national diploma in engineering as opposed to engineers with BSc-degrees.
This means there is a shortage of engineers who are able to design and manage larger projects while the market is flooded with engineers working in the private sector instead of the public sector,' Thompson explains.
"Once engineers become specialists in one field with corresponding growth in salary and expertise, they end up being able to only work on a specific project or aspect of a project, leading to the fact that multi-skilled engineers are becoming even scarcer,' she adds.
High school students are often advised to choose a career based on the skills shortage, but they should also make a choice based on their passion, interests and the global issues that interest them.
"Engineering is a very expensive and complicated field to study and work in and your impact in the field will depend on how happy you are doing what you do,' explains ThompsonYoung people who want to study and work in engineering must do their homework before they make their choice by finding out what each engineering qualification entails and which jobs it will qualify you for.
You could even find a new field in engineering that interests you. "You have to make up your mind about what you want your field of expertise to be, where you want to go and what type of projects you want to specialise in.'
"A relevant qualification is the first step to get into the industry and here a BSc in engineering is always the best choice. While there are some engineers who built a fantastic career on a minimum qualification, this will only work up to a certain level,' Thompson says.
While you are studying for a BSc degree in engineering, you can already find holiday work in your field, which will help you to get a foot in the door for finding work when you complete your studies, although employers generally prefer post-graduate experience.
"I would say it is worth it to do those extra courses at university or work on a site far from everyone you know if it will give you more multi-skilled experience. So do whatever you need to stand out from the crowd,' is Thompson?s advice.
"You should get into the career path that you are interested in as soon as possible to enable you to make your mark in your field. Experience in one specific field of engineering will always have an impact on your salary and your salary will never reach the top if you jump around between various fields of engineering,' she says.
Professional registration as an engineer is also important for employers and Thompson says if this is what employers want, you should do it. "In the end, employers want new, registered engineers to be willing to learn, be guided and mentored, and sacrifice more than the next person after completing four or five years of study.'
What do you think?
Are students given a solid foundation to pursue various fields such as engineering and which processes could improve the number of engineers produced ?