Tony Lewis finds out about graduate recruitment in the automotive sector.
Building a car is complicated, the third most complex manufacturing business after weaponry and aerospace according to Youssef Sbai, director of the newly-established Moroccan Automotive Industry Training Institute near Tangiers.
Managing such complexity needs good people. “Tomorrow’s leaders are today’s graduates and graduates wanting a career in the car industry should look for companies that will nurture that talent,” says Chris Donkin, chief executive of Magma People, an auto industry recruitment specialist.
The car industry changes rapidly – it needs people who can embrace change and challenge conventional wisdom. “A passion for people and the business and a clear point of view on industry issues are vital,” adds Donkin.
The other key attribute is the ability to “zero in on two or three things that will really make a difference” and have “clarity of thought and expression.”
It’s a view backed up by BMW , which runs its own programme for graduates. “The bar is quite high and we look for a combination of high technical competence and high leadership potential,” says the company. Nissan also says that leadership, teamwork and decision-making are the key abilities it looks for when taking on graduates.
BMW’s graduate programme is international with successful candidates expected to be prepared to work in departments worldwide.
In the UK, for example, BMW has manufacturing facilities at Oxford (MINI), an engine plant at Hams Hall in the West Midlands and sales and marketing divisions in Bracknell, Berkshire. There are currently 20 graduates in the UK.
But if they are taken on the UK it doesn’t mean they stay there. One of the current intakes has worked at Bracknell, BMW headquarters in Munich and is now working for the company in North America.
Nissan , which has European manufacturing, design and engineering facilities all based in the UK, has an annual intake of graduates in the summer. The numbers will vary widely. “We’re thinking ahead with succession planning – finding people to replace those due for retirement – so finding the right people is essential,” says the company. Most of today’s general managers at Nissan started their careers on the graduate scheme.
Nissan’s manufacturing site in Sunderland is well known so often graduates will apply there although they would be better placed working in the London design or Cranfield, Bedfordshire, engineering centres.
“If a good design engineer graduate applies to Sunderland we will pass them on to Cranfield while a business degree graduate might be better suited to a role in purchasing,” the company says.
“We look for a minimum for a 2.2 in a relevant degree. Areas such as production control and purchasing are open to most degrees.”