The state of engineering

Engineering 2018 is a report from Engineers Ireland tracking developments in an Ireland recovering from the economic downturn, with increasing demand for expertise being rewarding with improved salaries and opportunities

Engineering 2018 is a new barometer for the engineering profession in Ireland, capturing trends in engineering employment, perspectives and education. The report is based primarily on three bespoke surveys conducted between October 2017 and February 2018 with qualified engineers, engineering employers and the general public. 

This information is complemented by the analysis of data collected by government agencies and other organisations. A set of 10 key performance indicators for the profession has been developed and the results are shown overleaf.

Engineering is a diverse profession with engineers working in a variety of sectors, particularly manufacturing, ICT and construction. The public places exceptionally high levels of confidence in the engineering profession, with 90% saying they trust engineers. The public regards engineers as highly competent, applying expertise in their daily work, and essential to reduce risks to public health and safety.

Strong business growth

The economic recession was a challenging time for engineering, but the industry has bounced back in recent years and is now prospering.

Engineering employers experienced particularly strong business growth in 2017 and 83% recruited engineers. These employers are anticipating a similarly good year in 2018 and are planning to recruit further. In fact, businesses are concerned that there is an inadequate supply of engineering skills to meet their needs in the medium term.

There is wide public acceptance that there are plenty of jobs in the engineering sector in Ireland today and that engineering is a rewarding career choice for young people. Indeed, the demand for engineering talent has seen graduate engineer salaries increase by 11% in the past four years to Ä31,000. 

Meanwhile, employers continue to value the Chartered Engineer title awarded by Engineers Ireland which recognises professional expertise, leadership and ethical practice.

Our economy needs engineers and engineering skills. The number of students starting third level engineering courses in Ireland has been increasing in recent years, albeit slowly. In 2016/17, 3% more students enrolled in an engineering course at third level than in the previous academic year. The number of engineering graduates also rose by 3% in the past year. 

However, if, as a country, we are to overcome skills shortages in the medium term, we must encourage many more young people to choose careers in engineering. In this context, one of the biggest challenges facing the profession is bridging the gender gap and promoting a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

The importance of skills: Innovation, industry and infrastructure

The last number of years in Ireland have brought significant change to our environment, society and economy. Unemployment and emigration have been falling as jobs and investment have been rising.

However, the country faces incredibly serious challenges relating to housing, health, climate action and Brexit. To reinforce the economic recovery and to overcome these challenges, Government policy centres on the importance of skills to innovation, industry and infrastructure.

Major strategies such as Innovation 2020, Enterprise 2025, the National Skills Strategy and the Action Plan for Jobs emphasise the importance of skills to inward investment, export opportunities and sustainable long-term growth. 

Also, the Ä116 billion National Development Plan 2018-2027 (as part of Project Ireland 2040) commits to the delivery of an ambitious programme of infrastructure to transform the country over the next 10 years. It is of paramount importance that the country has the necessary capital infrastructure to meet economic demands within the coming years as well as the skilled labour force to create and fill the jobs of the future.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM)

Government has identified STEM as one of the most important sets of skills for the country’s future progression and prosperity. Following the work of the STEM Education Review Group, chaired by Prof. Brian MacCraith, a STEM Education Policy Statement 2017-2026 and Implementation Plan was launched to increase the uptake and diversity in STEM. These subjects are vital not only for economic development, but also for addressing global challenges, such as climate change, and to informing public decisionmaking in our democracy.

Engineers Ireland is a leading advocate for STEM education, STEM career pathways and public engagement with engineering for many years, coordinating the STEPS programme. Funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover programme Call, STEPS aims to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals. 

As the voice of the engineering profession in Ireland, Engineers Ireland focuses on the promotion and development of all disciplines of engineering.

Engineering 2018 Report

Engineering is transforming how we live, work and study. From life-saving biomedical technology to energy-efficient housing, engineers are developing innovative solutions for the benefit of society. 

The purpose of Engineering 2018 is to measure, analyse and learn from significant trends in the engineering profession in Ireland. 

The data contained in the report will be useful not only for engineers, but also for those considering entering our profession, for industry, for educational institutions and for Government policy.

You can read the full report at www.engineersireland.ie