Engineering numbers expected to rise by third


THE FUTURE is bright for engineers with job numbers expected to expand by more than one third over the next 12 years, according to a report from DKM Economic Consultants.

The report, commissioned by Engineers Ireland to mark the start of Engineers Week, predicts a 35 per cent increase in the number of engineers at work by 2020.

It also predicts the economy will grow by between 2.5 and 4 per cent in the early years of the decade from 2010, with growth stabilising at 3 per cent from 2015.

In this scenario Engineers Ireland says the numbers of engineers at work in 2009 and 2010 might actually fall, but would then rise rapidly due to Government spending commitments on infrastructure, and the development of the knowledge and green economies.

According to the research the rise in numbers of engineers at work in the decade from 2011 to 2020, at 35 per cent, is comparable to the 36 per cent rise recorded in the 10 years to 2008 – which were the boom years of the Celtic Tiger.

While much of the increase in employment will be in the “big three” traditional areas of mechanical, civil and electrical engineering, the DKM research has noted a significant rise in the numbers of engineers in the pharmaceutical, chemical, healthcare, electronics and ICT sectors on which the State is pinning its hopes for economic upturn.

The report did sound a note of warning however, commenting: “it is significant that 20 per cent of engineering graduates with a PhD emigrated [in 2006].”

Director general of Engineers Ireland John Power said many engineers did emigrate to get international experience.

But he said the figures showed the demand for engineers could be expected to expand at an average of 1,500 per year in the Republic and 600 in Northern Ireland.

He said this illustrated “a key point that Engineers Ireland has been making for some time: that without a steady supply of qualified and capable engineers, Ireland risks losing out in the very sectors that are the platform for our economic recovery and future prosperity as a knowledge economy”.

Engineers, he said were vital in for development of high-tech industrial sectors, such as chemical, pharmaceutical, healthcare, electronics and ICT businesses which account for almost 80 per cent of merchandise exports.

These sectors generated €42.3 billion in Ireland in 2007, or 25 per cent of total GDP for the entire economy, he said.

The DKM report which was entitled The Economic Importance of Engineersalso considered the regional distribution of engineers. While it stressed it was basing its calculations on where engineers live, as opposed to where they work, and many would commute, it found the highest proportion, at 38 per cent, were based in Dublin.

The lowest proportion, at just 3 per cent, was in the six counties comprising Northern Ireland.

At 4 per cent was the midlands, Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath.

At 5 per cent was the southeast, at 6 per cent the Border region and at 7 per cent the midwest.

Key findings

Key findings of the DKM report, The Economic Importance of Engineers, include:

The average earnings plus bonuses of Engineers Ireland members in 2008 was €67,700;

The engineers contribution to GDP is €5.5 billion a year;

Demand for engineers is expected to grow by an average of 1,500 a year in the Republic and 600 a year in the North, between now and 2020;

Engineers are vital to the high technology, pharmaceutical, chemical, healthcare, electronics and ICT sectors which account for 80 per cent of merchandise exports;

The high technology, pharmaceutical, chemical, healthcare, electronics and ICT sectors generated €42.3 billion in Ireland in 2007.