Engineers Ireland welcomes increased CAO interest in engineering courses

Engineers Ireland welcomes increased CAO interest in engineering courses

22 July 2016 at 14:15

However certainty of government policy is needed for sustainability in the sector

Engineers Ireland has welcomed the latest CAO figures indicating a surge in interest in engineering, construction and technology-related courses with Director General, Caroline Spillane, welcoming “the growing momentum now evident with students engaging with these subjects.” 

However the membership organisation also says that the anticipated demand for talent will continue to outstrip supply across all sectors of engineering in Ireland over the coming three years as the economy recovers unless a more integrated policy approach is adopted by government.  It is predicted that an additional 3,000 engineers will be needed in the design consultancy area by 2020, while the total number of actual enrolments in building and civil related engineering courses in 2015 was 2,155.

Speaking about the CAO figures, Caroline Spillane, said: “It is very welcome that student interest in engineering and technology courses has increased, since these skills will be needed to meet demand across an increasingly diverse engineering sector. However in order to future-proof the country’s economic growth, we need to retain that awareness and certainty.  In order to sustain it into the future, a more integrated policy approach needs to be adopted by government working with industry, that will provide long-term job certainty and incentivise students and graduates.  This can be achieved for example, through long-term planning of large capital projects so that employers, students and graduates can act with confidence.”   

Ms Spillane added: “The reality is that the number of students moving into third-level engineering and technology sectors needs to be much larger to meet employers’ future needs for graduates with these critical creative and numerical skills.”

The technology sector is facing a severe skills shortage and the education system is not able to produce enough graduates to meet demand. Latest projections indicate there will be continuing growth over the coming years, with an average increase in demand for high-level ICT skills rising by about 5 per cent a year to 2018.

Ms Spillane also voiced concern over the high dropout rate for engineering-related degree programmes at third level. Figures released earlier this year by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) illustrate high dropout rates in maths-related courses like engineering and computer science that are well above the national average.

Ms Spillane said: “Students need earlier advice on the merits and life-long relevance of maths and other STEM subjects, in addition to more guidance and support so they are more likely to have an interest and develop numerical competencies. This will channel them towards third-level courses that will lead to high-value jobs, career progression and help address the skills deficit in these areas.”

Editor’s note: CAO figures out today have indicated a 7% increase in applications to engineering and technology higher level degree courses. The figures also show a 20% increase in courses linked to the built environment.  

For further information:   Michelle Hoctor, Engineers Ireland (087 1420798)

Engineers Ireland is one of the largest representative bodies on the island of Ireland, with over 23,000 engineers.  The membership incorporates all disciplines of the engineering profession in Ireland across industry, the public service, semi-state organisations and academic institutions.