Upskilling engineers in a post-COVID world

The past year has been a challenging one for employers and employees alike and although a return to ‘normal’ appears to be on the horizon, the effects of 2020 on the job market will ripple for a longer while still. As such, the path for those looking to enter the workforce, or simply change career, looks to be more arduous than usual. 

The past year has been a challenging one for employers and employees alike and although normality is seemingly on the horizon, the effects of 2020 on the job market will ripple for a longer while still. As such, the path for those looking to get into work, or simply change career, looks to be more arduous than usual.  

With unemployment already at a five year high and the Bank of England predicting it to peak at around 8% later this year, uncertainty over job prospects and relevant skills have been pervasive. However, this comes at the same time as research by the City & Guilds Group showing that a third of Britons are unsure if they are in the right career. Simultaneously, other YouGov research has shown that only a third of Brits believe themselves to be sufficiently qualified for their roles or roles elsewhere. This presents a clear dilemma for the workforce, with almost a third of the country stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to acquiring relevant skills or being confident in their existing ones. The engineering sector faces its own employment challenge in particular, with a 66% increase in job vacancies for ‘general engineer’ between September 2019 and the subsequent year. 

This dilemma is compounded by the impact COVID has had on education and training, particularly in the engineering sector. Universities and businesses everywhere across the nation have had to rapidly reinvent themselves and pivot in how they deliver their education. Mike Sutcliffe, Vice President of the Engineering Professors’ Council mentioned that the pandemic “accelerated the transformation of engineering education”, forcing it to “pivot at pace to online delivery”. This digitalisation of education has presented more difficulties for those looking to upskill, with a lack of options and limited delivery, stunting progress to an already uncertain workforce. 

Online training has presented challenges in an already challenged era of unemployment and although the digitalisation of work and education cannot be put back into the bottle, it is up to -companies to offer a training system that works. Thankfully, a state-of-the-art competency management tool has stepped into the fore, using digitalisation as a solution to, rather than a contributor to, under-qualification.  

The Competency Training Marketplace, or CTM, was created by Sopra Steria, a European leader in consulting, digital services and software development. CTM was birthed in 2020, out of an identified need for companies in highly regulated and skills based industries, such as rail and construction, to effectively manage staff competencies. Companies within these industries often face a challenging logistical task in making sure all of their staff are fully qualified for a project or face hefty fines with an audit. CTM successfully combats this challenge, with its intuitive, free-to-use platform, designed to connect businesses with training providers, while keeping teams fully operational, compliant and safe. 

CTM is an industry first in combining a competency management platform with a training marketplace, to great success. The ‘training matrix’, a feature of CTM, helps companies fully track staff competencies, allows them to see who is assigned to what project, as well as when their competencies are expiring, ensuring this epidemic in under qualification to come down. Take Tom for example, an engineer working on a rail project. Using the training matrix, the company can see that Tom does not have the sufficient skills to work on the tracks but using the integrated training marketplace, they can assign him to the earliest convenient relevant course and voila, Tom is no longer underqualified, giving you and Tom the confidence they need to run operations smoothly.  

CTM was designed to give more peace of mind to employers in the compliance process, while making it easier than ever for the employee to be sufficiently qualified. While CTM is still young, it is expected to grab more attention in the coming months and years, as more companies turn to the platform, so it is certainly one to keep an eye on and it may be just the thing to tackle under qualification in the industry.  

Emma Hughes of Costain said: “CTM will have a hugely positive impact for both large and small businesses alike. CTM’s ability to mark out training and provide expiration reminders, all whilst removing the task of finding providers to deliver training, is incomparable to our previous processes.” 

This article was written for the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES). To find out more about the organisation, visit their website ICES | Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (  

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