Highway to the top
For graduate engineers in its highways and transportation infrastructure division, Atkins China has developed a structured training programme encompassing on-the-job and classroom training, and support for chartered engineer examinations.
The company enrols its graduate engineers mainly in Scheme A of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE). It enrols some in the Britain-based Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), which has a local affiliated institution, according to Douglas Simmons, associate director of highways and transport infrastructure at Atkins China. Mr Simmons is also the supervising civil engineer for ICE training at the company.
'Scheme A of HKIE and the ICE programme share the same training objectives. HKIE is more structured and its course follows a fixed three-year schedule whereas ICE allows for a longer period and provides greater flexibility for some graduate engineers, who may choose to spend one year abroad for training or switch from one company to another,' he said.
Atkins China's structured training programme enables graduate engineers to achieve a set of objectives over three years. The objectives include application of theories, options studies, enhancement of communication skills, budget control, people management skills and project administration.
'Graduate engineers will receive a certificate at the end of the training period. They will then be able to prepare for their professional exams. Atkins China provides them with support in essay writing for the exams. We will help them through the process of putting together their experience reports and project reports. We will also conduct mock interviews with graduate engineers and coach them on presentation skills and techniques,' Mr Simmons said.
As part of its continuing professional development, Atkins China supports graduate engineers with paid leave to achieve their training objectives. Each one is also allocated a budget for a study tour.
'The objective is to expose them to projects outside the company. The graduates should build a good understanding of other projects and the other ways of accomplishing projects in different countries. It helps them to see the demands of different clients and the market forces that drive the projects,' Mr Simmons said.
'We also encourage graduates to present their projects to other graduates. We have a strong rolling programme of lunchtime seminars. We aim to hone their communication skills with their colleagues and increase mutual awareness of projects within the company.'
Atkins China assigns mentors to give advice on training to each graduate engineer. These are chartered engineers with whom the graduates work every day.
'Because many projects nowadays involve multiple disciplines, it is important for engineers to be able to communicate effectively with architects and specialists of other disciplines,' Mr Simmons said.
'Our company aims to recruit individuals who want a career with us. We are happy to commit to graduates and give them the best opportunities. We always have in our minds the long-term goals and aspirations of our employees.'