Keller has launched a new two-year graduate programme designed to attract, nurture and retain the best new engineers in Australia. We spoke to State Manager Nigel Brockman and HR Manager Laura Crawshaw to find out why it was set up, how it works and what it means for Keller.

New graduate program

In February, four stand-out civil engineering graduates began a two-year journey that will expose them to all areas of Keller Australia, combining on the-job-training, structured online learning and self-guided development.

“As a global leader in a specialist market, we rely on a pipeline of talented people to differentiate us from our competitors,” says Nigel. “Although we’ve been fortunate in that people are migrating to Australia and moving from other business units here, it’s certainly a challenging employment market with a significant shortage of engineers.

“Finding the right quality people who align with our values in the open market is tough. We’re specialists and consider ourselves the best in the industry. It’s important to have a training and development programme which reflects that, so we can identify and invest in talent from the ground up. This is something that puts us ahead of our competitors.”

A structured approach

Based on a 70-20-10 structure, the new programme will see graduates spend 70 percent of their time rotating through different functions, gaining a fully rounded understanding of how the business operates. They’ll spend a month each in departments such as finance, HR and HSEQ, and eight months each in design and construction. They’ll also spend a month on placement on a major project or with another Keller business.

Twenty percent of their time will be focused on leading their own development through research, e-learning resources and attending workshops, seminars, GPT webcasts and other events. The remaining 10 percent of the programme will involve formal training with Engineers Australia as they develop core business skills and competencies.

“All aspects of the programme are directly linked to Engineers Australia, taking them a long way through the process towards chartership,” says Nigel.

Identifying talent

The four graduates (see panel) were chosen after a multifaceted recruitment campaign, as Laura explains: “We increased our visibility at university careers fairs and advertised the programme through a number of channels designed to attract the most suitable graduates. We also looked at our own intern pool.

“Overall, the programme will allow us to attract more women. Nationally, there’s a limited number of qualified female civil engineers, so this will allow us to meet with them early to discuss opportunities in geotechnical engineering.”

Over the two years, each graduate will be matched with a Keller mentor who’ll guide them throughout their journey. The aim will be to recruit a new cohort of graduates each year with the number assessed on business need.

Keller is also focused on hiring undergraduate interns, which will give them exposure to the business and a potential pathway for next year’s intake.

Investing in the future

“As someone who came through a similar type of programme in the UK, I know the true value of having structured learning that specifically develops you for the future,” adds Nigel. “The programme demonstrates to graduates that we’re serious about investing in them, it sets us apart from our competition and it will be a catalyst for developing all of our employees, right up to senior management.  

“I’m proud of what we’ve achieved as a business in order to create this programme and I’m excited for the graduates and for the future of Keller.”

Meet the graduates

Chris Dee
Chris graduated from Monash University and has been an intern with the Victoria team since January 2023.

Xufeng (John) Yang 
John is also a recent civil engineering graduate from Monash University and is based in Victoria.

Lily Campbell
Lily lives in New South Wales and graduated from the University of Sydney, majoring in geotechnical engineering.  

Angus Livingstone
Another Victoria-based graduate, Angus attended La Trobe University.

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