College News

Decrease in Engineering Students Means There Won’t Be Enough Qualified Workers to Meet Ireland’s Future Needs

There has been a 55 per cent decrease in civil and building engineering graduates within the last five years, even with an increase in salaries and many job opportunities, according to the Irish Times.

“There has been a decline in civil engineering numbers over the last few years, in some cases class sizes fell down to single digits. Students may graduate as an engineer but might not necessarily work as one.” said DCU’s current Engineering and Computing Representative, Bhartendu Sharma

He believes that there is more demand than supply of engineers across Ireland, which is slowly starting to change as class sizes increase annually which shows the interest Irish students have for STEM. “With the economy starting to boom again, things are looking good for future graduates across all engineering disciplines and that, in my opinion, should draw more students towards engineering and in turn sustain the demand of engineers required to drive innovation in Ireland.”

Company surveys indicate that roughly 90 per cent of engineering firms are predicting a rise in their economic situation this year, despite the uncertainty that may come along with Brexit.

Civil and building engineers are most in demand with almost 60 per cent of organisations surveyed looking to hire engineers in that area.

According to the Irish Times, over 6,000 engineering job openings are expected this year. They also showed that graduate salaries are an average of €33,750 which increased by over 20 per cent since 2014.

“I think part of it is a lack of understanding about what engineers do and the diversity available in engineering degrees. From what we’re taught in secondary school, it’s easy to think engineering simply involves a bit of soldering and filing some materials,” said DCU’s Engineering and Computing Representative 2019/20, Josh Malone.

He continued to say, “We’re not taught about how engineers are at the forefront of cutting edge projects and how their designs and ideas can have an impact globally. There are many routes you can go down with an engineering degree… so if this diversity is shown to students at a secondary school level I think it’d be highly beneficial in recruiting more prospective engineers.”

Gabriel-Miro Muntean, head of electronic engineering in DCU said, “This is as the economy is doing well here and in Europe, and there is a need for qualified people to fill the increasing number of engineering jobs required to support its growth. Unfortunately training an engineer is done over a long period of time and starts from primary and secondary education.”

“Attracting students to STEM subjects should start early and keeping them interested in studying these subjects is very challenging. Technology should be used to make their education journey more interesting and more appealing and diverse avenues exist to enable that.”

The DCU-led EU project NEWTON tries to do that by designing innovative technology-enhanced learning solutions, including the use of adaptive multimedia and multisensorial media content, AR, VR, gamification and game-based learning.