Supply of civil and building engineers must dramatically increase to meet country’s current and futu

Supply of civil and building engineers must dramatically increase to meet country’s current and future needs, new Engineers Ireland report states

06 March 2019 at 16:11

Supply of civil and building engineers must dramatically increase to meet country’s current and future needs, new Engineers Ireland report states

But engineering sector remains buoyant with widespread job opportunities in face of Brexit threat

Over 600 events taking place nationwide to mark Engineers Week 2019

The supply of third-level engineering graduates and professional engineering apprentices must dramatically increase to meet the country’s current and future needs, a new report by Engineers Ireland has stated. 

The report found that the 55% decrease in civil and building engineering graduates over the last five years was ‘a particular cause of concern’, although it did note that there had been a 48% increase in entrants to civil and building engineering courses in higher education albeit from a low base since 2012.

There is ongoing buoyancy in the engineering sector according to the report, with 77% of employers’ financial position improving in 2018 and 89% expecting their financial position to improve in 2019 despite Brexit uncertainties.  To ensure that its members’ ability to work across jurisdictions is not impacted negatively by Brexit, Engineers Ireland has also reached strategic agreements with peer organisations in the UK, the report said.

 

This positive business performance is translating into significant demand for engineers the report said, with over 6,000 job openings expected this year and graduate salaries (on average €33,750) up 21% since 2014.  Almost all (94%) engineering employers surveyed however consider a shortage of experienced engineers to be a barrier to growth – and almost half expect this situation to get worse in 2019.  Civil and building engineers are most in demand with 59% of organisations surveyed looking to hire engineers in this discipline.

The report, titled ‘Engineering 2019: A barometer of the profession in Ireland’, was launched by Minister for Education & Skills, Joe McHugh TD, today as part of Engineers Week 2019 which runs until March 8th.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister said: “This Engineers Ireland report strongly articulates the critical need for engineering skills to drive innovation in Ireland and to deliver vital services and projects in our communities.  It is an expert and timely contribution to the Government’s planning in this respect.  And it is also highlighting the huge opportunities that are out there now for engineers and for graduates coming through the system.  We are fully committed to working with industry and bodies like Engineers Ireland across the full spectrum of the education system to ensure we have the necessary STEM, ICT and digital skills that are needed to sustain our economic growth.” 

Engineers Ireland Director General, Caroline Spillane, said: “The current reality is that the number of students moving into third-level engineering and technology sectors needs to be much larger to meet our country’s current and future needs.  With just 35% of the parents of secondary school children that we surveyed confident in explaining what an engineer does, as a society we need to collectively do more to inform the public about the importance and diversity of the modern engineer.  Junior Certificate results have shown that Irish students have a strong appetite for STEM.  Now, more than ever, we need to retain this interest, particularly amongst females, and convert it into more third-level graduates - and ultimately more engineers entering into industry to fill the huge number of job vacancies that exist in Ireland.

“And this is what Engineers Week is all about - creating and fostering a life-long interest in engineering by capturing the imagination of young people and encouraging them to explore the abundance of diverse possibilities a career in the sector can offer,” Spillane added.

In the continuing and growing emphasis in the engineering sector on communication skills, the report found that 77% of engineering employers viewed communication skills as ‘very important’, with effective communication and teamwork viewed as just as (or even more) important than fundamental engineering knowledge.  To ensure they have the skills and expertise to undertake future projects, engineering organisations said they have been investing in upskilling/reskilling current employees (66%) and collaborating with education institutions (64%), according to the report.

The launch of ‘Engineering 2019: A barometer of the profession in Ireland’ at Engineers Ireland offices also included a panel discussion involving: Professor David FitzPatrick, the new president of Ireland’s first technological university, TU Dublin; Joe English, Lithography Department Manager, Intel; and Caroline Herlihy, Managing Director, Global Professional Consultants.

The second in the annual series, Engineering 2019 captures trends in engineering employment, perspectives and education.  This year’s report was based on three surveys conducted between October 2018 and February 2019 of qualified engineers, engineering employers and the general public.  These findings were complemented by summaries of data collected by other organisations such as the Central Statistics Office, Higher Education Authority and State Examinations Commission.

Engineers Ireland is exploring a variety of solutions to overcome engineering skills shortages, including: building new initiatives to increase the number of higher-education engineering graduates; greater promotion of professional engineering apprenticeships; upskilling/reskilling those qualified/working in other fields; engaging with Irish engineers working abroad; attracting international engineers to Ireland; and better retaining qualified engineers in the profession.

Now in its 13th year, Engineers Week is an annual campaign to inspire the next generation of engineers and excite students about the possibilities a career in engineering can offer.  With hundreds of events already taking place throughout the week, the event is coordinated on a national basis by Engineers Ireland's STEPS programme – funded as a strategic partner of Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme Call – and supported by TII, Intel, ESB and Arup.  To find out more about events taking place around the country or to register an event visit www.engineersweek.ie

You can access the Engineering 2019 (PDF) report in full.