Training and development opportunities as a design engineer
Published: August 2023
‘Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?’ a common question asked in many interviews and my response is usually the same – to have 5 years more expertise and project experience to make me a better design engineer. Training and development for me are crucial, I want to have a varied skill set to allow me to work on a wide range of projects whilst feeling confident in doing so. Therefore, attention to onboarding and progression is a huge draw for me, I am attracted to organisations that have a passion for putting skillset advancement and growth at the forefront.
I started working at Shore at the beginning of last year. Most of us know the feeling of starting at a new job. The first day is met with both excitement and some anxiety, often accompanied by the increasingly recognised “imposter syndrome”. The most common worry I experience is the expectation of turning up and knowing everything, ready to dive in straight away with no training. Of course, this is very unrealistic, even if you have worked in an industry for 10 years, a new organisation will bring new challenges and learning opportunities.
With 86% of employees saying that job training is important to them and a staggering 94% of employees staying longer with a company that invested in their career development it is no surprise that training and development is a key factor in any industry.
Women in STEM
The training on offer at Shore has been hugely beneficial to me, improving the skills I already had whilst allowing and encouraging me to explore other areas I was interested in. Confidence is a key area which comes from skill advancement and learning and in STEM subjects/professions it has been proven that there is a confidence gap between men and women. The confidence gap is the idea that women tend to be less self-assured in their STEM abilities than their male counterparts. A study based on two decades worth of research supports this confirming that men have a higher self-esteem than women. One of the ways that we can close this confidence gap is by taking a skills-forward approach to learning, identifying where an individual’s skill gaps are, what skills are needed to thrive in their role and providing an engaging development plan to ensure that those skills are acquired/grown.
Another area which would help close this confidence gap is looking at the idea of ‘if we can see her, it’s easier to be her’. There are far less role models for young women engineers than men. It was shown that we are significantly impacted by our belief of what is possible for ourselves when we have role models we can look up to. ‘A study of 11,500 girls across 12 countries found that they were much more likely to consider a career in STEM if they had a visible role model’. Therefore, if we see more women engineers thriving in their careers, we can expect to see a greater number of women choosing to work in the sector.
Confidence levels across different STEM subjects among males and females
Source: Youth Insight
Benefits of training and development
Training and development are important in any area: it not only keeps our minds healthy and sharp but enhances brain connectivity and cognitive skills.
Albert Einstein once said “Once you stop learning, you start dying”
Considering the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime, equivalent to roughly 10.2 years, it becomes hugely beneficial for employees if organisations prioritise their development and growth.
There are many benefits of this for both the organisation and the employee. For example, an employer can expect increased productivity, improved performance, and the opportunity to promote from within the company, which saves time and costs while enhancing brand reputation and employee engagement. On the other hand, employees can expect increased confidence, job satisfaction, and a greater sense of being valued.
Training and development at Shore
Initial CAD training
When starting at Shore it was reassuring to see a comprehensive CAD training programme, this included online classes and tutorials with a live instructor. This was especially beneficial for me as in previous jobs I had been using different CAD software and workflows. By being given the opportunity to dedicate the first month of my employment to this training was extremely valuable and allowed me to focus on this without hindering other project work.
When I was added onto a project, I was still able to run some of the training exercises alongside this which meant I could quickly implement the skills I had learnt. At the end of each block of learning there was an assessment to review the content you had learned. While there is always some apprehension going into a test, it was useful to see which areas I needed more improvement in and those that I was confident in. At the end of the CAD training, we were asked to rate the effectiveness of each module allowing us to highlight which areas we felt we needed more training on.
Shore has an expansive training library of operating procedures and design guides based on previous experience. Ensuring our output is to a high standard and consistent, educating on these procedures allowed me to familiarise myself with how Shore operates, making it a seamless transition when I started project work.
Having these easily accessible also allows employees to be in control of their learning and development by being able to pick out specific topics when required, encouraging them to be more engaged with their learning programme.
With so much knowledge across everyone at Shore it was great to see this shared and taught during some of the internal design forums. A thorough overview was given on different design topics and Shore working practices with the opportunity to ask questions. One of the benefits of this was hearing about different aspects that were learned in past projects, having a wide knowledge base and past project experience within the organisation is especially helpful to make well informed design decisions in current and future projects. The full overview of each topic was stored in Shore’s library, which could be accessed at any time.
It’s not just within the forums where knowledge is shared, the mantra of “always ask for help” is more than evident in the day-to-day at Shore. Whether it’s approaching an expert in a particular area or putting a request out on Teams, everyone is approachable and open to mentoring or giving advice.
Bringing it all together
As part of Shore’s training programme, a design ‘challenge’ is set for everyone to implement what they have learnt through the internal design forums and CAD training. What made this a unique challenge was that it was set out as a live project: there were different phases and reviews that needed to be completed as per a live project. In addition to CAD skills, there was a need for implementing design for assembly and manufacturing. This was supported by tolerance analysis, technical drawings, and prototyping.
By the end of the exercise, you had a product which was suitable for manufacture along with a 3D prototype and full documentation of design reviews and feedback that followed Shore’s design process.
This was a fantastic way to put the skills learnt into practice. Getting feedback from highly experienced engineers was invaluable and I took away important insights from the design reviews that I was able to implement in my design.
3D render of product developed as part of Shore’s training exercise
Training and development plan
Training and development reviews at Shore allow employees to not only see where they can improve their skills and experience but also allows them to highlight other areas that they are interested in. For example, whilst an area like rendering and animation is not expected in an engineering role it is something that I wanted to gain more experience in. It’s reassuring to see that Shore encourages employees to explore other learning areas they are interested in and due to the wide skill set of the team there are plenty of experts to ask.
I have found my training at Shore to be the best I have experienced in any organisation, the material available along with the expertise in the team and real-life training scenario have increased my confidence and skillset in my role and I have no doubt that these will continue to develop moving forward.
‘Day in the life’ video
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