Looking for a new job? Would updating your CAD skills help?

Looking for a new job? Would updating your CAD skills help?

We recently read an interesting article by Louisa Peacock from the Daily Telegraph. She was looking into whether updating your software skills would guarantee a job and kicked off the debate with an email from a DT reader called peter: 

‘I am a computer aided design (CAD) draughtsman with 15 years experience in engineering. I lost my job more than a year ago and want to update my software skills to get a new role. What do you suggest?’ 

At Solid People we’re often asked whether updating CAD skills will help secure a CAD job. This is why we found this article interesting, and this is why we thought we’d share it with you: 

It’s an easy assumption to make, Peter, but going on a training course won’t necessarily lead to a new job. True, you’ve been unemployed for over a year and your skills might be rusty. And yes, in your industry especially, the software packages are likely to have moved on with new versions you are unfamiliar with. But none of that matters, according to Chris Morrall, a recruitment expert who specialises in getting people back to work post redundancy. You should, he says, work out what you are good at – “what makes you feel alive” – and which employers are likely to hire you “just the way you are”. 

Chris Morrall goes on to say that virtually every manufacturing company in the UK works from designs and technical drawings, but there is a huge variety in the types of CAD software used. Smaller firms use older packages because they cannot afford to upgrade. Larger companies will use various programmes from AutoCAD and Autodesk to SolidWorks and SpaceClaim, he says. There’s no point paying to pick up new technical skills if your future employer doesn’t need them.‘ 

You need to do a bit of homework, Morrall says. List 10 companies you would like to work for and research what software they use. This will give you a better idea of which business might be suited to your skills already without having to do extra training. 

Alternatively, ring the suppliers of the software you are trained in and ask them which firms use their products, he says. Apply to those companies directly outlining your technical experience.’ 

You are right however, to try and improve your employability. According to the Engineering council (www.engc.org.uk), you should assess your experience against industry standards listed on it’s website in the “UK Spec” pdf. Here, you will find all the competencies that technicians, such as yourself, should be able to demonstrate. For example, the ability to identify a problem and use appropriate engineering principles to deal with it. According to Richard Shearman, deputy chief executive of the Engineering Council, you should work out what you excel at and how you can sell that to employers. 

Louisa goes on to add ‘With more than 15 years experience, you should also apply for professional status at the Institution of Engineering Designers (www.ied.org.uk). One of the perks of membership is allowing you to tout for work on its website. Make sure you’re using jobsites including www.engineeringjobs.co.uk, www.justengineers.net and www.telegraph.co.uk/jobs. Article by Louisa Peacock of the Daily Telegraph 

There was some really good advice in Louisa’s article and we’d certainly offer similar. We agree that it’s important to register with job boards, professional institutions, making company contact lists and fully understanding your strengths. However, what do we think about updating your CAD software skills? 

Chris Marshall, the recruitment expert from the article didn’t feel that updating your CAD skills was important. We don’t necessarily agree, although it is a tricky one to answer. Ultimately we feel it’s important to give yourself the best possible chance for success... and having updated CAD skills will help. 

A major problem with updating your CAD skills is cost. CAD training courses can be expensive, and if there’s no guarantee of a job at the end of it should you take the risk? Our advice would be to look into more cost effective ways to further develop your CAD skills, and you do have some options. There’s no doubt SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, Creo  and Solid Edge are four of the leading 3D CAD packages, so if you’re in mechanical or product design we’d recommend looking at one of, or all four of these. 

If you approached a CAD software provider and booked yourself onto a basic training course you could be looking at a cost of anything up to £1,000. If you’ve got the money great, why not, but like most of us if you can’t afford this sort of money then what are your options? 

1. Cost effective training: More and more universities and colleges are running CAD specific short courses. This is a cost effective way to receive formal training on industry leading CAD software. A good first step would be to contact your local college or university and ask about their CAD courses. 

2. Using your network of contacts: If you’ve been in the CAD industry for a while, do you have any current or ex colleagues who own a license of something like SolidWorks or Inventor? If you do, give them a call and ask if you can have a play. Better still, ask if they’d help show you the ropes. 

3. Go and see a ‘proper’ demonstration: Are there any CAD resellers running seminars locally to you? Many CAD resellers run seminars to showcase the software to prospective clients. Give your local SolidWorks, Inventor or Creo reseller a call and ask if you could attend one. You’ll see the latest version of the software being used to its full potential by industry experts. 

4. Get online: Keep abreast of the latest developments in the CAD industry by following online news articles, press releases, demo’s etc. Youtube is a great place to see demonstrations of new features and functionality of 3D CAD packages. 

So these are just a few more cost effective ways of developing your CAD skills...should you feel the need to! We probably wouldn’t recommend forking out lots of cash for expensive training, however we would recommend looking in to more cost effective ways of improving your CAD knowledge. 


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