A £5m programme to support leadership and management training for graduates embarking on engineering construction careers has been welcomed as a “huge step forward” by the industry.

The ECITB has launched its new Graduate Development Grant programme in response to calls from employers and Government to ensure new graduates entering the industry have the know-how to take on key roles in the workplace. The scheme will support more than 150 individuals each year with each graduate receiving £12,000 over three years.

Graduates can undertake training against a variety of learning objectives, including in project management, commercial awareness, leadership and report writing. By ensuring more engineering graduates possess these core competencies, the future engineering construction workforce will be more able to lead and deliver projects and possess transferable skills that are in-demand across all sectors of the industry.

Chris Claydon - ECITB Chief Executive

ECITB CEO Chris Claydon

Chris Claydon, Chief Executive of the ECITB, said: “Across the engineering construction industry there is both a need to recruit and train the highly skilled workforce of the future and also to round off individuals’ academic learning with the soft skills required by employers.

“We have listened to calls from industry employers to fund graduate training in a similar way to apprenticeships and we are proud to support the investment employers make in their new recruits.”

The grant system for graduates is similar to the way the ECITB provides support for employers to recruit apprentices. In addition, the grant also supports engineering graduates being developed against the Engineering Council Standard for Professional Engineering Competencies, which means companies can use their own training schemes as well as ECITB-designed programmes.

A number of employers have already started to take advantage of the Graduate Development Grant with approximately 130 graduate recruits from 20 companies supported by the scheme at the start of 2020.

Paul Fox, HR Director at Offshore Design Engineering Ltd at said: “We are delighted to have our recruits among the first cohort of the ECITB’s new Graduate Development Programme.

“It makes perfect sense to invest in specialist training for those embarking on engineering careers from a University background in the same way as we do for school-leavers entering into apprenticeships. It is a huge step forward in the way we approach learning and development for highly skilled new recruits.”

The Graduate Development Grant is the first of a number of initiatives set out in the ECITB’s new business plan. The plan, published in January 2020, follows the decision by employers in October to approve the ECITB’s three-year strategy, Leading Industry Learning 2020-2022 , and the proposal to raise the industrial training levy.

The new business plan sets out how the ECITB will meet its objectives for the next three years and help address the major challenges facing the engineering construction industry. This includes the need to deliver £600bn-worth of major infrastructure projects over the next decade, replace an ageing industry workforce and support the transition to a net zero carbon economy.

The ECITB has a proud history supporting the training of graduates engineers as they embark on careers in industry. This new national programme follows previous initiatives including the ECITB’s graduate retention scheme, which saw around 500 graduate engineers supported during the downturn in the oil and gas sector. This scheme, which funded the professional development of learners at risk of redundancy, helped to retain 75% of those graduates in the industry.