The rapid development of industrial automation is creating increased demand for new technical skills.
– But it also requires leadership, says Anna Bengtsson, a 24-year-old application engineer. She has five practical tips on how companies can attract young people and get the skills they need to keep up.
Anna Bengtsson, together with Sofie Nilsson, was awarded the Automation Student prize last year and will also participate in next year’s Scanautomatic, 8-10 October 2024, where the supply of skills in the automation industry is in focus.
She emphasises the importance of leadership to attract young people in the rapidly changing technology landscape.
– The test of success or failure is really whether you have young people in your organisation. A newly qualified engineer who ends up in a workplace where they don’t get what they want quickly moves on.
– In order to thrive, the employer needs to think about how to deal with this young person.
Five tips for success
Anna says that new engineer graduates, who have completed their university education after five years, generally realise that they are not fully qualified.
– Because that’s how it is: as a new graduate, you don’t know everything from the start.
– That’s why I was looking for knowledge and skills in the company I was going to work for, and a culture where they share them. That means the company is willing to invest in me and wants me to develop.
Sharing expertise is also number one on Anna’s list of tips for attracting young engineers. Setting aside time, giving responsibility early on, listening to the knowledge they bring to the table and giving an overall picture of what the job entails are four other important points.
Early responsibility develops
Anna herself entered the labour market in spring 2022.
– Then it was really high pressure. It was crazy! My fellow students and I received lots of job offers.
In the end, Anna ended up at Beckhoff Automation – which she doesn’t regret.
– I was able to take responsibility there early on, run customer projects and do meaningful things. This has meant that I have developed much faster than I would otherwise have done.
Beckhoff, which is also an exhibitor at Scanautomatic, often works in partnership with customers in industry, primarily machine manufacturers, but also in the construction and property sector, hospitals and public sector facilities.
Anna works closely with the customer via PC-based control systems that enable flexible and scalable automation solutions.
– Our products give the customer great freedom, for example through open and standardised interfaces, which is a prerequisite for flexible integrations with other systems or products. The freedom sometimes leads to complexity, which means the customer needs some help – and that’s where I come in.
Time for support and guidance
If she needs support in her work, she can always turn to experienced colleagues:
– It makes me more daring, knowing that I have the whole company behind me. The fact that a company takes the time to understand that a younger person needs a little more guidance is something I really appreciate.
It’s not just about the technical stuff, she emphasises:
– As a newcomer, you need to get an overall perspective, see how everything works, learn all the routines. A lot is completely new and unfamiliar. As a graduate, you are an expert at going to school, very good at it, but often have limited knowledge when it comes to working full-time as an engineer.
It pays to listen
A common mistake in recruitment processes is to look for just one resource, says Anna.
– You can’t think like that. Hiring a recently graduated engineer is not the same as hiring someone with ten or twenty years of experience. Hiring someone who is new to the labour market makes demands on the company but can also have many positive effects.
The advantage of hiring a young person can be a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
– But not only that. During the final years of study, you often learn about new technologies that the university has researched, but which have not yet reached industry. This means that we bring with us new perspectives, new ideas that can develop the business, she emphasises.
– Employers who do not take advantage of this, who do not listen to young people, are making a big mistake. By contrast, the companies that do can strengthen their innovation capacity and be at the forefront of technological development.