This year’s list of the best graduate employers shows high-performing graduate engineers are choosing interesting work, not just big names.
The AFR list of the Top 100 Graduate Employers for 2018 features three engineering and technology multinationals in the top 20, and a good showing by the domestic public sector.
In particular, infrastructure giant AECOM has leaped from number 14 to eight, right behind technology consulting firm Accenture.
Other top engineering employers are Aurecon and Jacobs, ranked at numbers 20 and 21, respectively.
The public sector also had a significant rise in the rankings, with NBN rocketing 51 rungs from 67 to 16 this year, and the NSW Government up from 40 to 12.
NBN and NSW have invested heavily in nation building and infrastructure, which appears to have increased their appeal as employers of choice.
There is also good news in the the rate of employment for engineering graduates, with 80 per cent of graduates successfully making the transition to full-time work last year. This places the engineering profession seventh in the rate of of graduate employment by study area, with medicine, pharmacy and dentistry topping the list.
Engineering graduates also ranked highly for pay, earning around $70,000 – $7000 above the average salary for graduates in 2017.
While STEM graduates are in high demand, graduate employers are also looking for well-rounded candidates who embrace the humanities.
According to Randy Wandermacher, the HR lead at Accenture for Australia and New Zealand, employers prefer graduates who don’t “reduce the world to ones and zeros”.
“In the digital and robotics age we still require STEM graduates. But what we also want in graduates is curiosity, resilience, judgement and adaptivity,” he said.
And this blade cuts both ways: more confident, rounded STEM graduates are looking for employers who can give them the best workplace experience, starting with the selection process.
This has led employers, including Accenture, to ditch tedious interview panels and adopt interactive and fun recruitment activities in a bid to attract the cream of the graduate crop.
One of these initiatives is the snappily named ‘Accenture Adventure’, which creates some friendly competition between student candidates during a one-day program of creative activities.
Accenture is also capitalising on the strengths of the upcoming generation of digital natives by using game-based neurological apps to determine whether graduate program applicants have the psychological traits the company is after.
“Based on the nature of how they play the games and how they get through, we can get back to them to say, ‘Hey, you look like you are suitable for a role in our business. Click here to apply’,” Wandermacher said.
Another company with a ‘gamified’ application process is professional services firm KPMG (number 2 on the list, behind PwC), which last year increased its national asset management and engineering advisory arm to more than 300 employees.
According to head of talent acquisition Phil Rutherford, KPMG has taken the technology a step further by implementing 24/7 application handling using robotic process automation.
“The feedback we have is that we can manage people and their expectations much better. Students want instant and that’s what they are getting,” Rutherford said.