The declining number of skilled individuals in South Africa’s eng- ineering fraternity has prompted engineering and construction company Fluor to attract, train, employ and develop young engineers through its Young Graduate Development Programme, introduced in 2005.
Fluor South Africa talent development manager Jenny Wesson says the development of these young engineers starts within Fluor, as they are offered bursaries to study engineering at local universities and become incorporated, when they qualify, into the company’s programme.
“Twenty bursars have graduated since 2005 and we have extended it to other candidates studying in the built environment,” says Wesson.
She adds that Fluor also recruits young graduates from universities and universities of technology, as many of those graduates struggle to find jobs on completion of their studies.
Once employed by Fluor, the graduates embark on intensive theoretical and experiential training made available through the Young Graduate Development Programme, equipping them with the skills needed to add value to the execution of projects.
After completing the four-year programme, Fluor assists the graduates with their application for professional registration with the Engineering Council of South Africa. They are also assisted with their applications to discipline-specific voluntary associations, such as the South African Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
There are currently 22 students in this programme at Fluor, says Wesson.
According to 25-year-old engineer Riyal Oudhram, a BSc mechanical engineering graduate, the programme has pro- vided him with a clear and defined structure for his progression professionally, while he gains experience and expertise.
“A career development plan was drawn up with the assistance of my mentor and department managers and is monitored regularly to track my growth,” he adds.
Oudhram says, as Fluor is a project-based company, the graduate programme provides an avenue through which individuals can place their preferen-ces and development needs on record.
He highlights that this provides department managers with a clear understanding of the needs of graduates and the path they are orientating themselves towards. Therefore, when opportunities arise, department managers can tentatively assign graduates to appropriate projects.
Oudhram explains that he is currently on assignment in Durban and, in the six months that he has been based in the city, he has been exposed to the basics of Fluor’s internal structures and procedures, adding that this will present him with a wider var- iety of prospects in the future, as his skills set is slowly but surely expanding.
Further, Fluor has also realised that years of experience can be lost, owing to employees retiring or exiting the industry, unless these years of experience and skills are transferred to the next generation of employees entering the company’s growing workforce.
This was a major motivation in the creation of the virtual Fluor University, which consists of 27 colleges, offering 200 instructor-led courses and more than 1 000 online programmes to more than 41 000 employees on six continents.
The Fluor University is the first fully integrated and structured approach to career development in which experience on its projects provides practical learning that is supported by the courses available through Fluor University. The university is, in turn, supported by Fluor’s learning systems and resources, which are available to all employees.