Why 2019 is shaping up to be year of the young engineer Monday, 17 December 2018

As Engineers Australia starts to focus on its 100th year as a professional association, along with gearing up to host the World Engineers Convention in Melbourne, a new EA community is quietly gaining steam and proving to make its mark in 2019.

This year, Engineers Australia launched its new community for student and graduate members called Frontier.

The new community is setting out to connect students and graduates with a new outlook on how they can enter the profession and add their value. But more importantly, the community understands what students and grads are currently facing.

Engineering studies across various disciplines are becoming highly complex and superseded almost as soon as students leave uni. Studies have shown by the time engineering students graduate their knowledge will become irrelevant within five years.

Pressure is also on for young engineers to build on their work experience, volunteering opportunities, soft skills and communication techniques in an effort to become more agile, competitive and workplace-ready.

With many universities not providing engineers with opportunities for this type of growth, engineering professionals straight out of their degrees have very few places they can go to find the type of advice and experience to level-up their careers.

Domestic students in university engineering courses have fallen, with engineers commencing entry level courses (bachelor degrees) falling by an average 3.5 annually over the last three years.

On top of that, students are entering a very competitive market with engineering jobs frequently on top of the most desired career lists and are some of the most well paid professions.

The silver lining is that graduate engineers will be in demand and typically are more likely to land a job out of uni compared to other STEM-related degrees.

Frontier breaking new boundaries for young people

Understanding the challenging landscape young engineers are faced with was the first step for Engineers Australia Membership Growth Team to help young engineers overcome these new and ever-present challenges.

The team, located across the country, is looking at how grads and students can be better supported through their memberships.

Engineers Australia’s National Manager Membership Growth Samantha Zdjelar says her team has developed a very good idea of what grads and students want through market research and talking to them directly.

“Engaging early career engineers is critical for Engineers Australia. Employers are seeking a more well-rounded engineer and this is where we can play an important role,” Sam said.

“We know from our research that graduates and students want something very different to our general membership base and we’re now giving them what they want.”

Sam says Frontier represents a new push to strengthen Engineers Australia connections with grads, students, young engineers, tertiary institutions and, importantly, the profession.

“Nowhere else can a young engineer get access to such a broad view of the profession and connect with a community of like-minded individuals.”

The new group now offers targeted events, products, content, and resources relevant to their particular career stage.

“Engineers Australia has been connecting with students and grads for a very long time,” Sam said. “But the way young people interact with organisations has drastically changed in the past few years.”

Frontier now has a dedicated website, an app, targeted content, emails and a closed Facebook group to cater for students’ and grads’ specific needs. It also serves as an umbrella under which to connect audiences with events that are relevant.

“The new group helps young engineers easily identify what is for them and give them a feeling of belonging to Engineers Australia,” Sam said.

The team is already making headlines in the graduate market after Engineers Australia’s graduate program won Most Popular Association at this year’s Australian Association of Graduate Employers awards.

With the foundations of the community in place, the Engineers Australia team looks towards 2019 as a fresh start in delivering new and exciting projects for young engineers.

Frontier Projects to look out for in 2019

Partnership with GradAustralia

Engineers Australia’s Membership Growth Team has teamed up with GradAustralia in an effort to deliver more opportunities to seek out engineering jobs.

Exclusive to graduates, Frontier will be launching a searchable interactive jobs board that will feature graduate jobs, internships, work experience placements and jobs for engineers up to four-years post-graduation.

New webinars

Frontier will tap into its vast network of engineering professionals to share their experience and advice through informative webinars.

The webinars will provide content that appeals more to those starting out in their careers and be exclusive to members.

The content will include virtual site tours, discipline pathways and workplace relevant content for various career stages.

Making CPD relevant

With students and Graduates making up more than half of Engineers Australia’s membership base, it’s important to make Continuous Professional Development events relevant to future engineering leaders.

Engineers Australia Membership Growth Team has developed a new toolkit to help guide groups and committees when planning events for early career members, giving them tips on what to think about when planning their CPD.