STEM subjects on the up as Engineering Industry continues to BOOM.

Barry Bowen 21.03.2019

Engineering week has come and gone and in its wake another successful 7 days where over 600 events were run throughout the country.

The professional body Engineers Ireland celebrated the week by launching Engineering 2019 a concise report on the industry. Once again we have been enlightened with some promising developments made in the engineering industry over the last 12 months. An area of concern from a recruitment point of view is the current lack of qualified engineers in the manufacturing industry. Changes are happening though which is a relief and improvements to Critical Skills Employment Permits applications and new developments such as the spouses of Stamp 4 recipients are helping. 

Many of the leading global Medical Device and Pharmaceutical companies have a presence in Ireland, employing over 58,000 people across 190 different facilities. Many more professionals are employed indirectly providing necessary services including many field service roles that are keeping the factories ticking over.

The IDA are to be commended for the part they have played in promoting Ireland as a suitable location, another important reason why many of these companies considered Ireland was due to the largely talented pool base that was available in Ireland. Come the end of June we will more than likely be the only English speaking country in the EU. 

This talent pool is running dry however and companies like Boston Scientific, for example, are starting to think outside the box somewhat by offering to fly expats home from Australia so long as they commit their professional future to them. These competitive relocation packages may drastic but at this time needs must. 

 

These observations are prevalent right now and some other interesting observations raised by Engineering 2019 highlight the concerns of employers including:

- 94% believe there is a shortage of experienced engineers with the right skills.
- 79% believe there is a shortage of engineering graduates.
- 36% believe there are difficulties getting work permits/visas
- 28% are concerned about Brexit.

The response to this is that:

- 67% of employers are taking the appropriate steps to up-skill their employees
- 64% are collaborating directly with educational institutions
- 43% are looking to attract foreign talent and taking the necessary steps to support engineers coming to Ireland.

Not a whole lot we can do about Brexit but right now the engineering desk here in Morgan McKinley are seeing a notable increase in suitable candidates, applying for engineering roles as they look to relocate from the UK. 

Some long term efforts are beginning to take shape and hopefully we can reap the rewards in the not so distant future. A trend that is rising in recent years is the uptake of STEM subjects at Leaving Cert level (up 18% in the last 5 years) culminating in an increase in students opting for STEM subjects at Third Level. 

Secondary schools are also playing a part in this upsurge and every year the Young Scientist competition seems to be growing bigger and bigger. It was also great to see the long standing relationship between University Limerick and Clongowes Wood College recently in the national press when their incredibly successful MACSI program was highlighted. Every year Academics provide a range of problems where mathematical modelling can be used to come up with solutions. Examples include locating the black box of a crashed aeroplane or forecasting the cost of cancer screening programmes.

Having witnessed this program first hand and all of the work that the students and their mentor Stephen O’Hara put into it alongside Professor James Gleeson and his colleagues in UL, similar projects would be massively beneficial to the future of our engineering industry. 

My colleague Lisa O’Neill also recently attended her local foróige STEM event in which a number of local students collaborated to prepare and present some incredibly impressive projects. These incentives are crucial if we are to continue to keep these 190 manufacturing facilities operational. 

Further information included in Engineering 2019 can be found here courtesy of Engineers Ireland. 
 

Barry Bowen's picture
Senior Consultant | Manufacturing, Automation, Process & Project Engineering | Dublin & South East.
bbowen@morganmckinley.ie