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Engineers Shortage Persists

Leaving Cert students who don't get their top CAO choices might want to consider engineering and construction qualifications, as demand is outstripping supply in the sectors.

Recent analysis carried out by Engineers Ireland and recruitment firm Hays found that while there is an increased demand for engineers and other construction specialists, there is also a shortage of available and suitable candidates.

Equally, the numbers pursuing construction courses at third level is insufficient to meet industry demands in the coming years.

Hays recorded a 93% increase in the number of construction and property jobs on offer during the first six months of 2014, when compared with the same period last year.

Leinster is predictably experiencing the greatest growth in new construction jobs, with a 143% increase in those available and a 30% increase outside of Leinster. Salaries in the sector are increasing, but at a much faster rate in Dublin.

According to Hays, engineering companies are currently seeking to recruit and expand their work force, with mechanical and electrical engineers/project managers particularly in demand.

Recruitment by main building contractors, civil & structural consultancies and architectural firms is also beginning to pick up.

Hays also points to a shortage of particular types of candidates for construction projects and engineers at a mid-level in their careers.

Engineers Ireland has also warned of an ongoing shortage of engineers graduates in the years ahead, despite the current strong demand for these graduates.

The organisation points to the fact that during this academic year (2013/2014), only 62 construction engineers will graduate, compared with several hundred in 2007.

John Power, chartered engineer and director general of Engineers Ireland, says: “For many years, the numbers of students opting for civil and construction engineering careers fell significantly, which is not surprising, given the collapse of the property market.

“At that time, many engineers in the construction sector went to work on overseas projects or moved into non-construction areas of engineering in Ireland, such as the energy and environment industry.”

Power says that, according to ESRI figures, 90,000 more homes are needed over the next seven years, with significant demand for commercial property also expected.

“Therefore, in the week that thousands of students will receive their CAO offers for third-level education, Engineers Ireland would encourage them to think seriously about a career in engineering and construction.

“Equally for students about to enter Leaving Cert year, they should explore the industry over the coming months and inform themselves on whether it is a career option for them.”

Niall Toland, business director with Hays Construction & Property, adds that Ireland needs construction professionals at all levels, from graduate engineers to senior project managers.

“The solution to tackling the current deficit of qualified candidates must come from multiple sources, including encouraging students to pursue careers in the industry, attracting workers back to Ireland, upskilling and retraining existing workers.” (August 2014)

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