How to Address the Engineering Skills Gap for Recent Graduates

December 23, 2022
Detail Engineering & Design
Safety & Quality

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You have likely seen recent data concerning the skills gaps that currently exist and are projected to continue to increase between retiring and incoming workers. Particularly in skilled trades such as construction and engineering, the loss in experience in the workforce will be challenging.

While recent engineering graduates are typically eager to enter the workforce, it can understandably take a while to transfer classroom knowledge into real-world skill sets. Fortunately, closing the engineering skills gap in the EPC industry can be done with well-established on-the-job training, exposure, and transparency to all areas of the project execution process, and encouraged self-motivation.   

Close the Engineering Skills Gap While Developing Your Workforce

On-the-job training is critical to ensure recent graduates develop the skills and knowledge needed to progress in their careers. After all, in a field such as engineering, application is key. However, application-based learning is not always available to university students. Work-based training programs can provide workers with the skills they need to become successful engineers in the EPC industry.

How Employee Training Affects Your Project 

Recent graduates have a hard time closing the engineering skills gap if they aren’t given the right opportunities. For capital projects, it’s important to seek out contractors who encourage training and learning through application. Developing and retaining high-performing employees is the key to successful project teams. These training opportunities must be all-encompassing, consistent, and allow participants the opportunity to fully grasp everything that goes into executing capital projects. To set you and your project up for success, look for companies that offer training that encourages a consistent approach toward project execution.

Measuring Worker's Progress

While on-the-job learning is invaluable, effective communication with the trainee is also important for measuring results and mitigating issues throughout any program they are in. When training employees, contractors should have periodic assessments built in that ensure that their workers meet requirements and continue developing the skills necessary for work on capital projects.  

Emerging engineers currently in training should, as an example, create weekly reports outlining not only their daily activities but any issues they have encountered and their learning experience through these lessons learned. This provides more insight than just counting the number of hours someone was trained. It helps identify that training participants are accessing meaningful training components. This information also helps employees set benchmarks, see how far they’ve come, and identify opportunities for further development.

Allowing Them To Take Ownership Of Their Careers and Build Future Leaders

A training program can be a powerful way for employees to take ownership of their career development. But to get the most out of it, they will need the right approach. The goal of any program should be to provide hands-on experience that cannot be taught effectively from soft training methods. Their careers will thrive as they learn precise skills and gain knowledge while improving job performance. Contractors who encourage and motivate their workers to learn and have confidence in their questions will provide the best results.

Immersing recently graduated engineers into training programs allows them to engage in the culture and become stewards of the company's core values. Early in their careers, the programs mold them into the future leaders that the company needs as it grows and adapts to the needs of the industry. Training programs allow you to assess workers early in their careers and determine the optimum value for themselves and their company—allowing for the early identification of leaders. 

For it to work, you have to give them actual responsibility and allow them to own it. That is how you bring value to them and the company. In addition, they must be challenged with real-life project scenarios and provided the opportunity to have an impact on the company. 

H+M: The EPC Training Program Fit for Your Capital Project

The H+M EPC Training Program immerses new employees in three to four rotations of different specializations to ensure our new graduates/workers gain knowledge and experience in the overall process. The length of the program is tailored to each employee, but on average, the program takes around two years, with six months for each rotation. 

The program is also focused around these core values:

  • Safety
  • Client Experience
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Team Success

All new employees participate in our engineering and construction rotations, but the other rotations are chosen based on their degree, interests, and the company's needs. At the end of the program, each employee has the opportunity to choose which specialization they want to pursue as their career with H+M. This innovative approach not only helps close the engineering skills gap but also provides flexibility for recent graduates to explore a full range of opportunities before deciding on a career path. 

The core rotations of H+M's current program include various engineering disciplines such as Process, Civil/Structural, Instrumentation, Electrical, Mechanical, Piping, Quality, and Welding. Other Potential rotations include Project Management, Project Controls, Project Estimating, Supply Chain and Procurement, and HSE. 

While these recent graduates are full-time employees, training continuously happens both in the field and in the classroom. We develop a customized curriculum for each rotation that outlines key items and tasks engineers should become familiar with while in that rotation. Our program is self-paced, unique to the engineer, and encourages regular communication. With the H+M EPC Training Program, employees develop lifelong skills and strategies they can use in the field.

Every month, the Rotation Manager conducts assessments to ensure employees are progressing seamlessly through the program and allow them to ask questions and bring up concerns. Our employees are responsible for attending weekly development meetings and submitting weekly reports. 

At H+M Industrial EPC, we value the individual needs of our clients and workers and provide the highest level of success for all projects, big or small. To achieve success, we understand that we need to develop our upcoming workforce and work to address the engineering skills gap. With a strong team, we can complete capital projects from concept to startup or provide individual front-end planning, engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, or maintenance services to fit individual needs.

About the Author

Want to Learn More About Project Management?

To learn more about how the H+M EPC Training Program is closing the engineering skills gap, or to work with H+M Industrial EPC, contact us now!

To find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of turnkey projects and how H+M Industrial EPC can meet your capital project needs, contact us through our website today.

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For over three decades, we have provided best-in-class capital project management services to Energy and Chemical industries through our proven EPC approach. We are dedicated to providing trust, experience, and efficiency through all stages of engineering, procurement, and construction--on budget and on time.

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