STEM choice steady and mathematics growth welcomed but industry demand for talent outstrips supply –

STEM choice steady and mathematics growth welcomed but industry demand for talent outstrips supply – Engineers Ireland

15 August 2018 at 10:38
 
STEM choice steady and mathematics growth welcomed but industry demand for talent outstrips supply – Engineers Ireland
 
  • One-third of Leaving Certificate students (16,837) sat higher level mathematics paper in 2018 – an increase of 104% when compared to 2011
  • Number of STEM sittings steady but cause for concern, as industry demand is outstripping supply
  • Maths and science knowledge valuable aptitudes for future engineers as ongoing acute shortage of available talent in the sector continues
  • 79% of Irish adults believe engineering is a rewarding career choice for young people
 
Engineers Ireland has today welcomed the continued growth in the number of students sitting the higher-level Leaving Certificate mathematics paper. Results obtained from the State Examinations Commission has shown that almost one-third of Leaving Certificate students sat the higher-level mathematics paper in 2018, a figure that has more than doubled when compared to 2011.  
 
There has also been a small increase in students sitting the higher-level biology paper, with almost 46% of students taking the subject in 2018, an increase of almost 1% when compared to 2017 sittings. However, the representative body for engineers, whose membership represents the full spectrum of the engineering profession in Ireland, has also highlighted their concerns as the number of students sitting STEM subjects (based on 11 subject areas) has not seen a marked increase for the first time in several years.
 
Commenting on today’s Leaving Certificate results and industry demands, Chartered Engineer and Engineers Ireland Registrar Damien Owens commented: “Maths and science knowledge are valuable aptitudes for future engineers. Now, more than ever, we need to encourage students at primary and post-primary levels to equip themselves with an adequate knowledge of STEM, to study engineering at third level and go on to work in the profession. Our organisation is very active in this area with our STEPS programme - funded under Science Foundation Ireland’s Discover Programme Call -  which encourages primary and post-primary students to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), while promoting engineering as a study and career choice.” 
 
Public confidence in the engineering sector has grown, with a recent survey by Engineers Ireland highlighting that 67% of the public agree that there are plenty of jobs in the sector in Ireland, compared to just 22% four years ago. Industry demand for engineering talent has also seen graduate engineer starting salaries increase by 11% in the past four years.
 
However, as industry demand continues, Ireland has an acute shortage of engineering skills that could undermine the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 goals. There are major concerns regarding a shortage of Civil & Building Engineering graduates, the numbers of which decreased by 45% in the past five years.  
“We are seeing new job opportunities for graduates and increasing salaries within the engineering sector, but there continues to be a shortfall of engineers to meet the needs of industry. Our future engineering graduates will be central to the successfully delivery of the ambitious new infrastructural and technological initiatives that have been outlined in Project Ireland 2040”, Owens continued. 
 
The Engineers Ireland Registrar concluded by encouraging students selecting their school subjects this Autumn to focus on STEM and to consider a future career in engineering: “The world of engineering is open to everyone - girls, boys, creative thinkers, curious minds, problem-solvers and leaders.  Maths and science knowledge are valuable aptitudes for an engineer however, a basic curiosity and ability to analyse the real world are also key to a lifetime of rewarding career opportunities in the engineering sector.”
 
For more information on Engineers Ireland, please visit: www.engineersireland.ie 
 
Notes to Editor:
 
Leaving Certificate Higher Math’s Results
2011 – 8,235
2018 – 16,837
This represents an increase of 104.5%
 
STEM subjects
At Leaving Certificate level, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects are:
  • Mathematics
  • Applied mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Physics & Chemistry
  • Agricultural science
  • Biology
  • Engineering
  • Construction studies
  • Technology
  • Design & Communication

STEM data analysed – Percentage of Leaving Certificate students sitting each STEM subject

Higher level

2017

2018

Change

(percentage points)

Biology

45.6%

46.4%

0.9

Mathematics

28.0%

29.5%

1.5

Chemistry

13.9%

13.9%

0.0

Construction studies

12.7%

12.4%

-0.3

Agricultural science

10.9%

11.4%

0.6

Physics

10.7%

11.0%

0.2

Engineering

7.8%

8.2%

0.3

Design & communication

7.6%

7.8%

0.2

Applied mathematics

3.2%

3.2%

0.0

Technology

2.3%

2.5%

0.2

Physics & chemistry

0.8%

0.7%

-0.1