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Making informed career choices

04 February 2019

A presentation at the last Appetite for Engineering event argued that when it comes to career engineering career choices, it is important to look beyond the brand image. 

During the ‘people and skills session’ at the annual Appetite for Engineering event, which took place in October, Winkworth’s managing director, Grant Jamieson, together with HR manager, Jessica Holt, took to the stage to deliver a presentation that suggested that young people too readily seek career opportunities with large corporations having been enticed by corporate branding, the prestige and glamour of the products they offer, but not necessarily focused on the personal work experience they will actually get within those organisations. 

Holt has worked in both SME and corporate environments. She believes that there is a common thinking error that a high brand reputation will produce a better work experience. She said: “It is often the case that well-known brand values colour a person’s opinion of what that company will be like to work for. This view needs to be questioned because the brand and the products should never be given prominence over the work experience that the company is able to provide the individual.”

On the flip-side if SMEs, who employ a significant percentage of the UK workforce, are missing out on the talent pool despite the fact that in reality many SMES are are able to offer better opportunities and a greater diversity of work experience. 

Jamieson said: “It is important to ensure that the work environment suits the individual, to give them the best work experience and the best opportunity to explore and identify their own talents and assets. In some cases this might be a corporate environment, while others may be more suited to working within an SME environment.”  

Focus on the individual 
Jamieson called for the focus to shift towards what is right for the individual – whether that is a student making career choices, or a graduate looking to develop their experience. He argued that, to support the decision making process, corporate entities should provide an honest and realistic appraisal of what they can offer through their apprenticeships, internships and work placement schemes, while SMEs need to make more effort to actively promote themselves locally, working closely with schools and universities to raise their own profiles and to inspire students.

Jamieson said: “We are asking young people to think long and hard about their career path. There is so much ‘noise’ out there to influence young minds and their entry-level career aspirations –including from parents and the older generations who often won’t be in the best position to offer impartial advice. Ideally, we want individuals to fully understand who they are and what it is that they are really after – what suits them and in particular which kind of work environment will they thrive in. 
“A company with a high brand reputation is no guarantee of a great job; SMEs may offer the individual improved choices, more interesting career paths and greater variety and mobility. All the options should be fully researched and considered.”

Backed by a loyal, skilled and long-serving workforce, Winkworth recently achieved a ‘Highly Commended’ in the PPMA Best (Business, Education, Skills and Training) Award in recognition of its investment in young people through industrial placements over the past seven years. PPMA Best is a charity established in 2014 to encourage young people to enter and develop a career in engineering within the processing, packaging, robotics, automation and industrial vision supply industries through education, training and support.

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