Reaching the first rung on the career ladder is always the hardest and as students flock back to university many will be setting their sights on the future and how best to prepare to enter the competitive job market.
With the oil and gas sector still adjusting to the low oil prices, there are understandably a lot of anxious students with concerns about securing their first job within the industry.
Although many may feel disheartened by media reports about the current climate, a DEVEX 2015 seminar in May entitled ‘How young professionals can cope during a reduced oil price’, reported that there has in fact only been a 7% decline in graduate opportunities and internships within the industry.
Amongst those companies continuously striving to offer graduates the first crucial steps in their careers is Aberdeen-based Hydro Group, a global design and manufacturer of underwater cables and connectors for the subsea, renewable energy and defence sectors.
Irene Buxton, Human Resources Director, highlighted the company’s dedication to investing in the workforce of tomorrow. “Hydro Group has become an active hub for engaging and connecting students and young people with the working world.
“We have been investing in and encouraging graduates and young professionals to become involved with the industry for many years with a range of projects and schemes.
“By offering on-site visits through organisations such as SUT+, our association with the University of Poitier in France and our investment in training and apprenticeship schemes, we are helping to develop personal knowledge and competency standards which, in turn, benefit the company and industry as a whole.”
SUT+ is a complementary service provided by the Society for Underwater Technology which provides opportunities for graduates to see a working company within the sector, and to gain an understanding into the processes that go on behind industry projects.
Earlier this year, Hydro Group hosted a successful ‘lunch and learn’ event at its Aberdeen facility, in which 10 graduates and students received a tour, followed by a presentation of the company’s products, services and capabilities.
Ms Buxton continued: “The event was open to those already in work looking to expand their knowledge of the industry, and to graduates with little or no working experience. It provided the opportunity to see the different positions on offer and the ages of graduates, trainees and apprentices working here with a variety of different skills and qualifications.
“In September 2013 we took on Jonathan, a Mechanical Engineering Graduate, and over the past two years he has had the chance to work across various departments, providing him with the experience and skillset to develop as an engineer.
“Last year we gave a 10-month placement to Barry, a final year I.T. student who successfully achieved a First Class degree with Honours in Computer Networks Management and Design in May, and accepted a permanent contract of employment with the company. In addition to this we employed Isaac, a final year student from RGU, on a three month summer placement as part of his Mechanical Engineering degree course.”
Commenting on his experience Isaac said: “I have been given so many opportunities to work on new and exciting projects, including the chance to travel to France twice. I have been exposed to a variety of working environments, from the design office to industrial workshops, and even an offshore platform. This has given me a broad insight into what Hydro Group does, helping me to understanding how its products are designed, manufactured and applied, and providing a truly invaluable experience.”
Hydro Group’s affiliation with Poitiers University, located in West France, has been built up over six years, and has enabled the company to offer University students the opportunity to learn on the job – a highly effective way to gain industry experience and knowledge.
The 10-week placement, offered to one student annually, contributes towards their degree, whilst also providing hands on experience by allowing them to work on a specially designed project that requires involvement across departments and disciplines, seeing the project through from start to finish.
The programme not only benefits the visiting students, it also provides opportunity for Hydro Group management trainees to gain extra managerial or supervisory experience, by helping to guide the students through their projects.
“It’s not just newly appointed graduates who benefit at Hydro Group. We also provide opportunities for existing staff, by financing night classes and distance learning courses to gain qualifications in HNC, HND and Degree subjects to develop and progress within the company,” concluded Ms Buxton.
Hydro Group believes that providing students with crucial opportunities to further their knowledge and experiences, whilst improving their CV in a competitive job market, ensures the stability and future of the company and subsea sector industries.