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Are today’s engineering grads ready for a changing workplace?

Aurecon survey reveals relationship between the industry's future needs and the attributes of graduates.26 October 2017 - Engineering skills such as calculations and modelling are increasingly being replaced by computers – and now more than ever, engineering students need to find ways of improving their employability.

Recent Aurecon research involving 9 700 respondents highlights a fascinating relationship between the industry’s future needs and the attributes of students graduating from universities. The research was conducted as part of Aurecon’s 2017-2018 Graduate Recruitment Campaign. The campaign has been listed as a finalist for the ‘Award for Most Popular Integrated Marketing Campaign (Private Sector)’ in the Australian Association of Graduate Employers’ Australian Graduate Recruitment Industry Awards this year.

"There is an urgent need to close the widening gap between the fast changing needs of the industry and the attributes and capabilities of the students graduating from universities” explains Aurecon’s Global Director, Excellence and Expertise, Kourosh Kayvani.

Aurecon recently surveyed their internal and external clients to understand the types of skills and capabilities that are valued in helping organisations respond to a rapidly changing world. An outcome resulting from this project is the Aurecon Attributes – eight future focused skills that inform how Aurecon hires, develops and promotes its people. They go beyond technical skills and seek to identify the transdisciplinary capabilities that allow graduates to become problem finders, rather than problem solvers.

Aurecon’s 2017-2018 Graduate Recruitment Campaign involved digital and print media, as well as events and popular millennial social media platforms such as Snapchat to engage graduates with the Attributes. The campaign offered a unique glimpse into the future capabilities of engineering and advisory graduates globally, with more than 9 700 respondents globally completing a ‘What is your strongest Aurecon Attribute?’ quiz survey where they were asked a series of behavioural and personality based questions to obtain an indication of their strongest Aurecon Attribute.

The results were as follows:

  • Co-creative: 28%
  • Sense maker: 22%
  • Unconventional thinker: 13%
  • Engaging: 11%
  • Resourceful: 11%
  • Commercial: 6%
  • Inquisitive: 5%
  • Fearless: 4%

Aurecon’s Senior Recruitment and Sourcing Consultant, Steven Nield, believes these outcomes indicate historical teaching models for the workplace.

“Overall, the stronger results geared toward co-creative, unconventional thinker, and sense maker support a concerted change of focus in recent decades by employers, schools and higher education organisations toward gearing graduate success around teamwork and critical thinking,” says Steven.

“The lower representation of the resourceful, inquisitive and fearless attributes are symptoms of graduates historically learning to follow inflexible systems, rules and ways of working. Automation, remote communication and smartphones have opened new pathways, but our graduate workforce arguably still needs to develop its capability to navigate a commercial environment, be unafraid of making mistakes, and take the leap to ask the ‘why not?’ question to create disruption,” Steven concludes.

A paper offering an in-depth look at the full results will follow.

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