New CAO figures reveal increased interest in engineering courses
22 July 2016
Engineers Ireland welcomes increased CAO interest in engineering courses. However, it says that certainty of government policy is needed for sustainability in the sector
Engineers Ireland has welcomed the latest CAO figures indicating a surge in interest in engineering, construction and technology-related courses, with director general Caroline Spillane welcoming “the growing momentum now evident with students engaging with these subjects”.
CAO figures out today (22 July) have indicated a 7% increase in applications to engineering and technology higher-level degree courses. The figures also show a 20% increase in courses linked to the built environment.
However, the membership organisation also says that the anticipated demand for talent will continue to outstrip supply across all sectors of engineering in Ireland over the coming three years as the economy recovers, unless a more integrated policy approach is adopted by government. It is predicted that an additional 3,000 engineers will be needed in the design consultancy area by 2020, while the total number of actual enrolments in building- and civil-related engineering courses in 2015 was 2,155.
Spillane welcomed the increase in engineering and technology courses, since these skills would be needed to meet demand across an increasingly diverse engineering sector. “However in order to future-proof the country’s economic growth, we need to retain that awareness and certainty,” she added.
“To sustain it into the future, a more integrated policy approach needs to be adopted by government working with industry, which will provide long-term job certainty and incentivise students and graduates. This can be achieved, for example, through long-term planning of large capital projects so that employers, students and graduates can act with confidence.”
Spillane said that the number of students moving into third-level engineering and technology sectors needed to be much larger to meet employers’ future needs for graduates with these critical creative and numerical skills.
The technology sector, in particular, is facing a severe skills shortage and the education system is currently unable to produce enough graduates to meet demand. Latest projections indicate there will be continuing growth over the coming years, with an average increase in demand for high-level ICT skills rising by about 5 per cent a year to 2018.
Spillane also voiced concern over the high dropout rate for engineering-related degree programmes at third level. Figures released earlier this year by the Higher Education Authority illustrate high dropout rates in maths-related courses like engineering and computer science that are well above the national average.
The Engineers Ireland director general said: “Students need earlier advice on the merits and life-long relevance of maths and other STEM subjects, in addition to more guidance and support, so they’re more likely to have an interest and develop numerical competencies. This will channel them towards third-level courses that will lead to high-value jobs, career progression and help address the skills deficit in these areas.”