Why do you need an engineering skills framework?
The engineering industry is vast and complex with a variety of different roles and job functions. Even within the same organization, engineers can hold positions in electrical, mechanical, software, or chemical engineering, just to name a few. The top engineering skills needed can vary significantly, but there are commonalities between the engineering disciplines.
With nearly all organizations facing the competitive nature of the labor market, organizations are seeking out the most effective ways to hire, retain, and train talent. Aligning your engineering skills to business needs, technological advances, regulatory compliance, and employee development goals is a great place to begin. It not only gives the business insight into exactly what gaps exist within your engineering skillset, but it also helps your employees know they’re being valued and invested in by the organization.
With so many different engineering skills and roles throughout an organization, there has to be consistency and standardization with how they’re assigned to employees. Sometimes, skills will be duplicated across engineering roles, and sometimes, skills will be specific to engineers within a job function. As we’ve worked with our engineering customers over the years, we’ve noticed common skills within their competency frameworks. As you’re creating an engineering skills framework, take these into consideration to ensure you develop a compliant, safe, and competitive engineering workforce.
What engineering skills should be included in a competency framework?
We’ve compiled a list of the most common engineering skills from competency frameworks, and bucketed them into five categories. When developing your engineering skills framework, think through how these would apply to your various engineering roles across the organization.
- Engineering Processes and Procedures
- Engineering Tools and Software
- Industry Knowledge
- Product Design and Development
- Personal Skills and Qualities
Engineering Processes and Procedures
Consider common processes and procedures that all engineers within your organization should be familiar with.
- Corrective and Preventive Processes (i.e., equipment troubleshooting or diagnostics)
- Engineering Change Management (i.e., setting up, working with, reviewing, and approving change orders)
- Product and Project Management (i.e., creating, interpreting, executing on blueprints, strategic planning, risk management, and scheduling)
- Manufacturing Processes (i.e., forging, molding, machining, joining, imaging, forming, coating, or assembling)
To narrow down into more granular, role-specific engineering skills and competencies, consider specific job requirements and procedures.
- Software Engineers (i.e., testing, debugging, coding processes)
- Mechanical Engineers (i.e., planning, designing, and manufacturing products and components)
- Electrical Engineers (i.e., designing, developing, and maintaining electrical systems and components)
- Chemical Engineers (i.e., creating and testing new formulas and products)
Engineering Tools and Software
Next, look at your engineering tools and software. What systems does your organization use across your core engineering roles? Be sure to include those in this grouping of engineering skills and competencies. Examples could include software for:
- Design or Drawing
- Project Management
- Computing and Calculations
- Equipment Maintenance
- Quality Control
- Communication or Wireless Network Systems
- Computer Operating Systems or Cloud Platforms
For specific roles within your engineering workforce, consider the tools used in that engineering discipline. For example:
- Electrical Engineers: Voltage or Current Meters
- Design Engineers: 3D Modeling, 2D CAD, or Drawing Systems
- Mechanical Engineers: 3D Printing, CAM Software, or Semiconductor Process Systems
- Software Engineers: Version Control Systems, Debuggers, Text Editors, or Integrated Development Environments
Each type of engineering requires specific skills and knowledge. Depending on the role, some are more important than others, but as a general rule of thumb, engineers should be familiar with the following:
- Financial Knowledge (i.e., budgeting, accounting, understanding, financial reporting)
- Compliance Guidelines (i.e., engineering standards, environmental requirements, state and federal health regulations)
- Higher Mathematics Skills and Data Analysis
- Database Knowledge (i.e., SQL)
- Data Structures and Algorithms (i.e., Computer Programming)
Personal Skills and Qualities
Engineering is very technical by nature, but there are often times when communication will happen with someone outside the field. Soft skills such as communication would come into play here. Other soft skills that are important for engineering include:
- Clarification and Translation of Technical Terms
- Attention to Detail
- Clear Communication
- Critical Reasoning
- Interpersonal Skills
- Active Listening
Standardize engineering skills and competencies
The skills and competencies listed above are by no means an exhaustive list of those important for engineers within your organization. It’s essential to communicate with SMEs and other business leaders to understand what to include in the engineering competencies. To help standardize these competencies across the organization, regardless of location, a skills management platform is an important tool. It can help you build a more knowledgeable, competitive, and agile engineering workforce.
Talk with a skills advisor about how Kahuna can help you standardize the skills and competencies of your engineering workforce.