Having a strong independent voice representing the engineering profession is important to provide non-biased technical opinions to public policymakers. Engineers Ireland policy officer Keelan Keogh presents highlights of 2022, a year of advocacy that focused on engineering in a time of challenge.

Engineers are trusted

In January 2022, Engineers Ireland commissioned Behaviour & Attitudes to undertake a poll with 1,000 members of the Irish population aged 16 years and over.

The poll offered insight into the general perception of engineering; it is carried out annually, with the exception of 2021, due to the pandemic. The poll uses the same methodology, enabling direct comparisons year on year. The following section of the report, represented below, analyses the public’s perspectives on aspects of the engineering profession.

The public was asked, ‘Highly competent professionals need to be able to apply expertise in their daily work. Which of the following professions do you consider to be highly competent?’ At 95%, the public demonstrates an extremely high opinion of engineers’ competence, second only to doctors.

Public opinion competent professionals.

Through independent polls and surveys, we continue to also monitor the general perception of the connection between engineering and the climate crisis. The 2022 Barometer Report called Engineering 2022, which we publish, illustrated that the majority of our members were aware of Engineers Ireland’s commitment to sustainability.  In the poll results, the opinion overwhelmingly of the public, was that engineers are critical to combating climate change.

Engineers have an ethical obligation to tackle climate change.

Urban streets and roads design webinar series

Transport, environment, climate and communications minister Eamon Ryan TD spoke in February 2022 at the opening of our Urban Streets and Roads Design Series organised by the CPD team at Engineers Ireland. This was a series of free webinars created to highlight that streets also need to prioritise more sustainable forms of transportation such as walking, cycling and public transport, so the need for car-related trips is minimised to reduce emissions and promote healthier lifestyles.

The series was developed in collaboration with the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) and the Irish Planning Institute (IPI) and supported by the Department of Transport, and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Advocacy central to Engineers Ireland’s strategy

In 2021, Engineers Ireland unveiled our  Statement of Strategic Intent 2021-2023. The statement focuses on six core programme areas, including Goal 5: “advocacy for the profession and its contribution to social, environmental and economic development”.  

The strategy was launched by taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, who said: “The [engineering] profession has played an important part in the pandemic response and will do again as we launch an ambitious capital investment programme to create jobs and improve quality of life.”

This holds true as we recover from the pandemic and face new challenges, such as energy and housing.  

Engineers Ireland wishes to empower the expertise of our Sectors, ie, our Regional branches, Engineering divisions and Societies, to help shape public policy, exchange knowledge and ideas, and promote engineering excellence.

As part of Engineers Ireland’s Advocacy Strategy, four cross-sectoral working groups were formed early in 2022 with the goal of advocating about certain engineering-related topics. These voluntary cross-sectoral groups comprise of members from our various Sectors and focus on the topics of:

  1. National recovery: Our members’ skills are core to delivering a green and digital recovery, and realising the ambition of Project Ireland 2040.
  2. The Big Challenge – sustainability: Engineers Ireland, collaborating with others, is a definitive voice on sustainable engineering solutions. Our members are encouraged to keep sustainability at the heart of their roles.
  3. Engineering a Digital Future, Now: Engineers Ireland is a go-to organisation in ensuring the future workforce has the necessary digitalisation skills to succeed.
  4. Standards protect Society: Engineers Ireland is passionate about ensuring that the quality of standards that impact our lives is first class. We actively encourage members’ participation in the continuous maintenance, development, and implementation of these standards.

On April 26, Engineers Ireland’s new Advocacy Standing Committee held its first meeting with member representatives from the four cross-sectoral working groups and others. The Advocacy Standing Committee is responsible for collaboration, coordination, and oversight of the advocacy activities of Engineers Ireland in line with the advocacy strategy.

The resilience of the profession

Engineers and engineering organisations across the various economic sectors have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the post-pandemic world.  Our publication, Engineering 2022: A barometer of the profession in Ireland, published on April 5, was launched by education minister Norma Foley TD.

Norma Foley, left, and Caroline Spillane, former director general of Engineers Ireland.

This was the latest in an annual assessment of employment trends in the sector and featured 2,260 responses to a survey from members of Engineers Ireland and a public poll of 1,000 respondents carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes conducted online in January 2022.

The results showed that the profession remains robust in terms of remuneration, job opportunities and outlook in the face of the pandemic, Brexit and the general economic strain. 

To gauge the level of confidence in career opportunities, members were asked whether they agreed with the statement that there are plenty of job opportunities in the engineering sector in Ireland’. A total of 84% of members agreed that there are plenty of job opportunities, an increase of 17 percentage points from the last year (2021).

This was the highest level recorded by Engineers Ireland in the past five years – in relation to job opportunities. The public was also asked if they agreed with the statement ‘There are plenty of job opportunities in the Engineering Sector in Ireland’, with 72% agreeing. Engineers Ireland will carry our similar polls and surveys in early 2023, with an Engineering 2022 Barometer report due for publication in the spring.

Agreement 'there are plenty of jobs in engineering'” by location, discipline, and sector.

National conferring ceremony and Volunteer recognition

In May 2022, we held our national conferring ceremony and volunteer recognition event in Dublin’s Mansion House. This event’s opening was attended by further and higher education, research, innovation and science minister Simon Harris TD.

Simon Harris TD, third from left. Also in the picture are Professor Orla Feely, president of Engineers Ireland (2021-2022 session), Caroline Spillane, (far right), Dr Tony Scott, co-founder of Ireland’s Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. Both men received Honorary Fellow Titles that evening. Also pictured is Dr Cristina Paduano, our former CEng of the Year (far left).

Tackling the mica issue

The issue of mica and the presence of deleterious materials in concrete blocks in homes, particularly in counties Donegal and Mayo came to the fore in 2022.  

On June 23, 2022, Damien Owens, director general, the then registrar of Engineers Ireland, spoke at a Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting on Housing, Local Government and Heritage on the topic of Remediation of Dwellings damaged by the  use of Defective Concrete Blocks Bill. Engineers Ireland maintains the I.S. 465 register of engineers qualified to undertake assessments of deleterious materials, such as pyrite and mica, in concrete blocks.

Damien Owens, director general of Engineers Ireland speaking as our registrar, at a Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting on Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Engineer’s Ireland recommendations for Budget 2023

In our re-Budget submission 2023, we acknowledged the challenges facing the government and asked for the 2023 Budget to maintain a focus on the medium- and long-term delivery of vital infrastructure as outlined in Project Ireland 2040, while also addressing the short-term difficulties.

Engineers Ireland identified the following five areas as priorities for Ireland and provided a series of recommendations to address them:

  • Addressing the energy crisis;
  • Housing;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Education and training;
  • Enterprise and innovation.

We are of the view that investment in our infrastructure, particularly with regard to energy and housing, will bring long-term sustainable economic and societal benefits to Ireland.

National Conference

Engineers Ireland's 2022 National Conference took place at the Convention Centre, Dublin, on Wednesday, October 19.  Almost 400 members attended the event in person or online. With a title of ‘Engineering in a time of challenge; innovation, decarbonisation and the role of engineers’, the conference highlighted best practices deployed by ambitious engineering companies/firms or organisations with an engineering dimension in progressing their business, with a focus on innovation and a net zero/reduced carbon objective.

The event was opened by public expenditure minister Michael McGrath TD. In his speech, he acknowledged the importance of engineering and several areas of our work – with apprenticeships (and the encouragement of them); on the promotion of the Chartered Engineer title and the work of our STEPS Team. 

He also said: “Engineers are focussed on solutions. Your knowledge and skills are essential to improving the quality of life and wellbeing of our people.  Today’s conference is an opportunity to acknowledge the advancements that have being made, but also to underline just how central the engineering profession is to the future we all strive to create.”

Michael McGrath TD speaking at Engineers Ireland’s National Conference.

Consultation responses to the government

Engineers Ireland is committed to having the voice of the engineer heard in the public policy discourse, providing leadership on engineering issues.  We can provide this voice supported by the expert advice of volunteer members of the organisation; this voice can advise policymakers through consultation responses. We are most grateful to the membership for their support of our policy and advocacy work.  

The past 12 months has been a busy year for consultations, particularly around sustainability and energy security.

For example, our Energy, Environment & Climate Action (EECA) Division prepared extensive submissions on Ireland’s  energy security and developing a hydrogen strategy. All of Engineers Ireland’s submissions can be found on our website.

There are many recommendations offered in these submissions to ensure Ireland’s future energy security and sustainability goals, for example:

  1. Consideration should be given to removing the current statutory barriers to domestic nuclear power deployment. The current legal barriers inhibit robust analysis of its long-term potential.
  2. All potential pathways to large-scale (TWh+) hydrogen energy storage should be investigated and characterised in the context of an overall national hydrogen strategy. The government should seek to promote north-south collaboration in definitively establishing the technical and economic feasibility of a salt cavern gas storage facility in Northern Ireland initially for natural gas and potentially transitioning to hydrogen.
  3. Blending hydrogen (up to 7% by energy content) with bio-methane and fossil methane may be an option to connect hydrogen supply with demand in the near term, using existing methane infrastructure.  However all unabated fossil methane use must be phased out.
  4. To balance the risks of natural gas supply to Ireland, it is prudent in the near term to deploy one or more LNG floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) to achieve diversification of natural gas supply routes.

In January, Engineers Ireland had the opportunity to contribute to a consultation by the Department of Education on its  STEM Education Implementation Plan 2022-2026. STEM awareness is a core aspect of Engineers Ireland, aligning with our mission statement of encouraging and educating future generations of engineers.

Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme, supported by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, is specifically tailored to promote interest and awareness in engineering as a future career to school students.

Learning, leading, living and linking sustainability

During 2022, sustainability has been embedded throughout all our activities in Engineers Ireland, whether courses, events or indeed our STEPS programme based on our Sustainability Framework and Sustainability Plan. Adopted by Council in July 2020, the Sustainability Framework aligns sustainability actions with our core objectives under the four pillar headings: Learn (professional formation and development), Live (operations), Lead (advocacy and regulation) and Link (collaboration).

Our approach to sustainability includes the resilience of our built and natural environment in the face of extreme weather (climate adaptation), the need to reduce emissions related to our buildings, vehicles and infrastructure (climate mitigation), biodiversity protection and enhancement, and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In March, Engineers Ireland released its Sustainability Plan 2022-23 – building on the initial Framework

Significant progress has been made under each of the four pillars:

  • Learn: published new Accreditation Criteria; developed new CPD training courses; hosted a wide range of webinars and events. National Conference ‘Engineering in a time of challenge: innovation, decarbonisation, and the role of Engineers’.
  • Live: actively monitoring 22 Clyde Road (our office) footprint through energy use; operating in a hybrid model reduces the requirement for the daily commute.
  • Lead: established the Advocacy Standing Committee; lodged submissions; process under way to provide Chartered Environmentalist title.
  • Link: organised interdisciplinary training and events, co-organised the Urban Roads and Streets Design Series.

More information on these actions is available in the Sustainability Framework Progress Report 2020-2021.


The past year has been a challenging one – with a climate crisis and an  energy crisis, created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Engineers have a key role to play, using their ingenuity and problem-solving abilities to tackle the global challenges that we face now and into the future.

In 2023, watch out for our new publication on the subject of energy. It will focus on our energy infrastructure and advise possible ways to achieve our required 2050 zero-carbon goals. 

Author: Keelan Keogh, policy officer, Engineers Ireland