Damien Owens, Director General, Engineers Ireland, said: “Our recent survey has shown that 72% of member-respondents are majorly concerned about the shortage of engineers with the correct skills. These engineering employers see this shortage as the main barrier to business growth. We are all aware of the recent job cuts in the tech sector – many of them in the engineering area. It is important to stress that there are other sectors that are in urgent need of engineers eg, construction and consultancy, with almost 8,000 new jobs expected in these sectors in 2023.
The engineering field is one of the most important in our society. Engineering touches the lives of everyone, providing creative solutions to societal needs from tangible works such as bridges and flood defences, to heart stents and prostheses as well as the invisible technology that is all around us. But there is a problem: there are not enough skilled engineers to meet the demand. The skills shortage is nothing new. In fact, it has been an issue for years. To try and retain or seek talent, companies are upskilling, maintaining hybrid work, where possible and attracting talent from overseas.”
The professional body for engineers has also warned that the shortage of engineers could potentially undermine the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 goals and ambitions. Project Ireland 2040 is made up of the National Planning Framework and the National Development Plan 2021-2030.
“In Project Ireland 2040, the Government has committed to actions on climate change and a ready supply of talented engineers will be fundamental to realizing these goals. In 2023, the reality is that the number of students moving into third-level engineering and the technology sectors needs to be much larger to meet employers’ future needs for graduates.
“If we don’t address the skills shortage soon, it could have negative effects on our economy and society. We urgently need more young people choosing careers in engineering. I would therefore strongly students making their CAO choices, and particularly encourage young women, to consider a career in engineering and the fantastic and expanding opportunities that exist in the sector,” Mr Owens continued.
This call to action has come in advance of the CAO deadline of Wednesday, February 1, which marks the application closing date for undergraduate courses.
Damien Owens also said that an engineering apprenticeship, with many offering an ‘earn and learn’ experience, is an exciting opportunity for Leaving Certificate students who have an interest in engineering as a career, adding that: “An engineering apprenticeship can also be a proven way for employers to develop talent for their company, as well as opening up new and rewarding careers, with learning grounded in practical experience.”
In addition to encouraging Leaving Certificate students to consider a career in engineering, Engineers Ireland is also calling for engineering firms, companies big and small, libraries, local authorities, schools, and third-level institutions nationwide to get involved in STEPS Engineers Week 2023. Taking place from 4-10 March 2023, STEPS Engineers Week provides primary and secondary school students with the opportunity to discover engineering through events and activities facilitated by their teachers, parents, and local community.
The week-long celebration of the engineering profession is coordinated by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – a non-profit outreach program that promotes interest and awareness in engineering to school students – and is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and industry leaders Arup, the EPA, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
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