Aerospace and technology company Paramount Group has launched an engineering mentorship and training programme – the Young Engineers Development Programme (YEDP) – aimed at fast-tracking young engineers by equipping them with the skills and experience required to excel in the workplace.
The programme will also build what Paramount says is a sustainable talent pool for its current and future skills requirements.
Bridging the gap between university and the workplace, the 18-month-long YEDP will immerse and rotate engineers across all of Paramount’s manufacturing businesses, exposing them to modern technologies and innovations in the domains of land, sea and air.
Through a rigorous selection process, a group of nine recently-graduated engineers was selected from a shortlist of 103 candidates, following more than 800 applications received from across South Africa.
Paramount Group human resources director Martie Baumgardt says Paramount has a range of capabilities, enabling these young engineers to be mentored by experienced engineering teams based at Paramount’s various innovation centres, naval shipyards and land systems and aerospace factories.
“The blended training will combine traditional classroom training with online learning, practical projects, solving real-world complex problems, assignments and case studies, and seminars by external thought leaders and experts in their fields.
“The training will also cover soft skills development such as emotional intelligence, diversity appreciation and conflict resolution. The aim is to develop a well-rounded and workplace-ready engineer, who is not only fully competent in [their] specialisation, but will also develop competence in areas such as leadership, project management, supply chain, production and finances,” she says.
Through the YEDP, the company is proactively addressing local engineering skills shortages which will enable experienced senior engineers within Paramount to share their skills and decades-long experience with the selected young engineers.
In their first week at the company, participants in the YEDP were exposed to a programme that included an introduction to the company, a special session on the different career paths open to professional engineers, presentations from senior engineers from within the subsidiary companies on current and new technologies and future development plans and projects.
Participants in the YEDP toured the manufacturing facilities at Paramount’s Midrand campus, including a fully-robotic electronics production line, a high-tech water jet parts cutting facility, an armoured vehicle welding line and final assembly plant, and a visit to its aircraft manufacturing facility north of Pretoria.
“I had no idea how many amazing technologies Paramount has expertise in,” says Thabo Tlale, who recently graduated from the University of Johannesburg as an engineer.
“The company made us feel like very important persons, and we received all types of amazing training in the first few weeks. I feel very optimistic about my future and very privileged to be working on an exciting unmanned aerial vehicle programme,” he adds.
Tlale says the second week of training was “pretty tough” because participants had to hit the ground running with the first test flight coming up. “I was tasked with complex materials strength calculations, and we were all under so much pressure and learning fast.”
“These young engineers are at the very beginning of their careers and their personal growth is very important for the long-term prosperity of our business. They are our next generation of engineers and the future of the company. We are investing heavily in them,” says Baumgardt.