Interview with Hugh Nugent, Engineering Recruitment Manager
30.10.18 · Engineering News
If there are any design engineers out there with a couple of years experience and interested in new opportunities, I’d be happy to speak with you.
We speak with Hugh Nugent, Engineering Recruitment Manager at Vickerstock.
VS: You’re one of the old timers at Vickerstock Hugh.
HN: Yes, I’ve been working on the engineering team at Vickerstock for over half a dozen years years now.
VS: So you must know everything there is to know on the subject by now.
HN: Well, there are hundreds of different types of engineers and a massive variety of companies to supply. I have worked hard over the years to build up my knowledge around the different roles, companies and terminology involved, and I now have a good understanding of the local sector and talent pool. But when you supply staff across industries as diverse as quarrying, medical technology and aerospace, there is always more to learn – that’s what keeps me interested.
VS: And do you feel like the job has changed much during your 7 years?
HN: I would say one of the biggest changes is the focus on lean continuous improvement within engineering. I mean the practice has been around for a while, however it was moreso towards automotive initially. But now we have smaller firms throughout Northern Ireland who have realised the savings that could be made with proper factory layout, good house keeping, implementing takt time, kaizen, Six Sigma and working to kits etc. Also, as we recruit within maintenance, there has been more of a focus on preventative rather than reactive maintenance. This is because reactive means downtime and that means loss of money from the drop in output, while preventative means that parts can be changed before their life expetency ends, maintenance can take place out-of-hours or during scheduled downtime and have less impact on the business.
VS: What is the main thing employers are looking for at the moment within engineering?
HN: It’s been the same thing this past 5+ years – there is a shortage of Mechanical Design Engineers, especially in the Mid-Ulster area. This is because there are a lot of companies who are heavy metal manufacturing and interested in developing new products. They are ideally looking experienced mechanical design engineers with 3 years’ plus experience.
VS: By design do you mean 3D computer design?
HN: The majority of design roles are within the SolidWorks 3D design package, after that there is Pro Engineer (Pro E), Solid Edge, CATIA and a few others. Most companies also use AutoCAD in support of their main package.
VS: And is the problem that there is just not enough people trained up on it?
HN: The university courses do train students using the industry standard software. Having a degree and understanding the theory is certainly useful, but nothing beats practical on-the-job experience and someone who has done the role for a few years daily. The feedback I get is that many junior designers make the same mistakes the first 6 months on the job. They focus too much on aesthetics and how it looks and pay less attention to how the product will actually be made using the tools and machinery available to them.
VS: That makes sense. That is why projects such as Queen’s Formula Racing is so important, as it give those students involved, real hands-on experince of designing and building with real budgets and time restrictions to deal with.
HN: I agree. It will make a big difference to the students learning to design something to actually be made as suppose to designing something to just look good as a portfolio image – and that’s were the experience comes into play. So the issue with Mid-Ulster is that because it is heavy metal manufacturing, they are looking for design engineers who also have experience in hydraulics and pneumatics. You know about 70% of all quarrying equipment in the world comes from the Tyrone and Mid-Ulster area. This means there is a wealth of a skill set in a small region, but they still need more.
VS: So your big focus right now is finding more design engineers?
HN: Yes, if there are any design engineers out there with a couple of years experience and interested in new opportunities, I’d be happy to speak with you, so get in touch. Although I do also have roles for engineering graduates with a good level of drive, a sleeves rolled up attitude and something to prove. It’s these personal qualities that tend to set some graduates above others at interview - it’s imperative that they get this across before they leave the interview room.