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Training & Retaining Young Engineers: A Look at How One Company Fills Their Talent Pipeline


Author: Cieana Detloff, Reporting for the Pump Industry

As young professionals get ready to graduate from college, the question weighing heavily on their minds is typically “What’s Next?!” One company is trying to help answer that question for newly minted engineers entering the workforce. I recently spoke with Adrian Conrad, an engineer who has spent a decade working with John Crane in locations all around the world.

Conrad manages EngineeringU – an Accelerated Development Program initiated by John Crane in 2014 that is designed to attract, train, and retain engineering talent. In this year-long program, young engineers rotate through different segments of John Crane’s global engineering department and work with highly experienced engineers on real-world projects.

“One of the best aspects of this program is seeing these new engineers – after one year, the confidence they’ve gained, the technical ability, and a network of people and resources,” states Conrad. “Giving these young professionals exposure to different areas of engineering, having them rotate into various site functions over a 12-month period, and allowing them access to senior peers…it’s remarkable how much easier it is for these individuals to roll right into their next, permanent position with John Crane.”

Knowing that only about 27% of college graduates ever obtain a job in the field in which they majored, it’s wonderful to see a company striving to help new engineers discover their ‘niche’ and working preferences while at the same time meeting the employment needs of their company, which maintains engineering as the foundation of their business.

“So many times, when students get out of school and start a new job, they realize they don’t really like it,” explains Conrad. “What we try to do is position new engineers to work on a series of projects so they can get a real ‘taste’ of what it means to have a certain job; this is critical for on-boarding them into a permanent position where their interests and strengths become an asset for finding solutions to our customers’ problems.”

In its 4th year of operation, EngineeringU has enabled John Crane to successfully retain twenty young engineers who have completed the program and found their place within the global organization. The EngineeringU managers are currently in the process of discussing expansion of the program to support advanced technical training for their existing engineers in the ‘mid-career’ stage – another great avenue for retention, especially as the process industries struggle to close the ‘skills’ gap.

Seeing a global company offer hands-on training and a guaranteed role within the organization is truly a ‘breath of fresh air’. I sincerely hope more employers learn from this example so that when a vivacious graduate is ready to enter the workforce, they have an answer to “What’s Next?!”



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