Careers in engineering

 

Sir, – There is one small problem with Alice O’Dwyer’s recent column (“Tech may be trendy, but engineering is essential”, Education, March 21st) in which she draws attention to the supposed skills shortage in the broad field of engineering: in 2015, only 60 per cent of level 8 engineering and construction graduates were employed in Ireland nine months after graduation. It is clear that there is a disconnect between the rather vague “spin” of employers and recruiters, and the reality of the graduate experience.

When it comes to careers, we owe it to school-leavers to bring a lot more clarity and precision to our public statements. “Engineering” is a very broad term, and if there are skill shortages, school-leavers need to know precisely where those shortages are. Chemical engineering is not the same as electronic engineering, which is not the same as civil engineering, which is not the same as mechanical engineering. The same arguments can be made when we promote “science” as a career because the career opportunities across the science disciplines, from biology to physics, are far from uniform. As for the “Stem” (science, technology, engineering and maths) concept, personally I would ban that word from all conversations relating to careers. It is vague to the point of meaningless. Thought-provoking and consensus-challenging data can be found in the Higher Education Authority’s excellent report What Do Graduates Do: The Class of 2015. – Yours, etc,

Dr GREG FOLEY,

Associate Dean

for Teaching and Learning,

Faculty of Science

and Health,

Dublin City University,

Dublin 9.