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Top firms offer tips for launching an engineering career
Jul 2014

Civil engineers design and build structures; mechanical engineers tinker with machineries to ensure their seamless operation; electrical engineers work day and night to keep electricity flowing in homes, offices and factories. No matter the discipline, engineering is a fascinating yet demanding profession. As our latest batch of students are about to launch their engineering careers, recruiters from three prestigious companies, which joined the IVE Engineering Job Fair in June, shared their insights of the industry and offered useful tips for fresh graduates.

In the fast-changing world, every society has to keep moving, or it may risk being left behind by competitors, and Hong Kong is no exception to this rule. Infrastructure is an indispensable component to keep up a city’s competitiveness, which in turn means boundless opportunities for budding engineering talents. 

In terms of railway development, five new railway lines, including West Island Line, South Island Line (East), the Express Rail Link, the Shatin to Central Link, and the Kwun Tong Line Extension, will be completed in the coming years, meaning that Hong Kong’s railway operator, MTR, will have a large demand for manpower. But the company does not only need new blood just because of new projects. “MTR spends five billion dollars annually on maintenance and improving railway systems. We also need to hire replacement for staff members who are promoted or retired,” said Maria Do Chi-mi, Human Resources Manager (Engineering) at MTR. “All in all, the company is planning to fill 860 vacancies for engineering and maintenance posts in 2014 to 2015.”

Other engineering-related fields also see a bright outlook in the future, prompting the companies to expand their workforces. “Gammon is an all-rounded construction company, meaning that we have businesses in civil engineering, building, electrical & mechanical engineering, and foundations. We also have our own concrete batching plants, steel fabrication factory, and engineering design firm,” said Edmond Lai Wing-kok, Human Resources Director of Gammon Construction. “Gammon hires more than 100 IVE graduates each year. In 2014, 46 graduates have already signed the contract with us, and I believe the number will rise.”

Analogue Group of Companies (ATAL), a leading electrical & mechanical engineering corporation, also expects to recruit a large number of young talents from IVE. “Numerous new vacancies are created in the group’s different business areas every year, including electrical and mechanical engineering, building services, environmental engineering, data centre infrastructure and lifts & escalators,” said Dr. Kathryn Ho Wai-fong, Chief Human Resources Officer of ATAL. “The company needs new technicians, engineering assistants, assistant engineers and engineers; we expect to recruit around 40 people this year.”

All representatives from three major companies agree that IVE’s attachment scheme, which has been expanded to cover all higher diploma programmes, is a good way for higher diploma students to ready themselves to embark on their engineering careers. The internship programme has received staunch support from industrial partners. While an internship does not 100 percent guarantee a job offer upon graduation, it nevertheless gives soon-to-be graduates to learn more about a real working environment, and a chance to impress their potential employers.

A lot of fresh graduates may be pondering the key to career success. Technical skills and academic qualifications are important – but people with good attitudes can never fail, according to human resources and training professionals from leading engineering firms.

“Attitude is most important and young employees need to think positively. A yearning to learn is also essential. A lot of youngsters believe they have already mastered some skills and refuse to improve their skills, but there is no end to learning because technology evolves all the time,” said David Leung Yiu-fai, MTR’s Head of Operations Training. Apart from attitude, Dr. Ho of ATAL emphasised the importance of passion, “ATAL is looking for students who are proactive, motivated and conscientious. For fresh graduates, a humble heart and a willingness to seek advice modestly are indispensable.” On the other hand, Mr. Lai of Gammon valued interpersonal skills in employees. “Since our company needs to work closely with clients, sub-contractors and suppliers, we hope that our new employees understand that success does not only rely on one’s capabilities – it is a team effort, hence the importance of communication skills.”

A proactive attitude is the first key to success; a drive to learn ceaselessly will be the second one, which is especially important for engineering professionals because of the constant technological advancement in the industry. All three companies have launched policies to encourage employees to seek self-improvement.

ATAL has established a full-fledged study sponsorship programme. “We sponsor 50 percent of the tuition fees for employees who want to pursue a part-time engineering degree, so that they can deepen their engineering knowledge and accumulate working experiences at the same time. Moreover, we are going to launch a structured scheme called Engineer Trainee Programme, aiming to nurture new talents from fresh graduates to become professional engineers,” said Dr. Ho.

Gammon Construction has its own study sponsorship scheme. The company goes the extra mile to encourage employees to upgrade professional capabilities, as many contracts required qualified engineers to lead the projects. Besides, Gammon also has its own training body. “The company has established an in-house learning organisation called Gammon Academy, with Gammon senior management members acting as teaching staff. Every year, the academy offers more than 150 courses for our staff members,” Mr. Lai said.

MTR takes a slightly different approach to motivate employees for continuous learning and development. “A Skills Progression Scheme has been running to encourage frontline technical staff, such as tradesmen, technicians and senior technicians, for continuous learning and skills enhancement as we do not hope that their skill levels will stay stagnant,” Ms. Do of MTR said. “If their skills reach a required standard, employees can accumulate some points and get a salary increase to reflect their achievement in the skill level.”

With 70 participating companies which offered around 900 vacancies, this year’s Job Fair was a springboard for our students to start their engineering careers, and corporations to search for new talents. While the event came to a perfect close with very positive feedback, it only meant the start for the graduates, and the Engineering Discipline wishes success in their future endeavours.

Graduates Sharing
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Engineering Discipline