79% of engineering organisations are planning to recruit new staff in 2021 despite the severe impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, a new Engineers Ireland report has said.

The report, based on a survey of engineering professionals and organisations across Ireland, also found that the engineering sector has remained resilient in the worst of the pandemic last year, with two-thirds – particularly electrical, electronic and public administration engineers – actually increasing their salary in 2020, and 81% saying they had not been in receipt of Covid-19 wage subsidies at any point since the onset of the pandemic.  Some engineering-related activity in ICT and pharmaceuticals also experienced strong growth in 2020.

Utility organisations (which include electricity, water, gas and telecommunications) were most optimistic about 2021, with 94% looking to hire engineers in the year ahead.

With Covid-19 restrictions hitting construction hard since the pandemic started, the report found civil and building engineers were more impacted than the average engineer, although the proportion of those on a state wage subsidy did not exceed 25%.  This compares favourably with the generally high rates availing of wage subsidies across and professional, scientific and technical activities.

The fourth in the annual series, ‘Engineering 2021: A barometer of the profession in Ireland’ report was launched as Engineers Ireland’s ‘STEPS Engineers Week 2021’ kicked off featuring hundreds of online events across for young people, their families and teachers.

Engineers Ireland President, Maurice Buckley, commented: “Engineers and engineering organisations across the various economic sectors demonstrated great resilience throughout the very challenging year of 2020. The results presented in this report show 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.  As we look optimistically to 2021 and beyond, there are currently plenty of job opportunities in the engineering sector in Ireland according to our members, although there is understandably more uncertainty than at this time last year.”

Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland, added: “The Engineering 2021 barometer report’s insights are timely as we kick off STEPS Engineers Week 2021, which is very much focused on celebrating the world of engineering in Ireland.  And with opportunities very visible across the sector, in particular for junior engineers, we hope to inspire students around the country through stimulating online events, shows, workshops and movies, to consider a career in our industry to meet the ongoing robust demand.  Our STEPS team has shown great creativity against a difficult backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions to bring STEPS Engineers Week 2021 to life in homes and schools across Ireland.  We are now looking forward to an exciting week that will showcase the profession to primary and secondary school students in the hope of capturing the imagination of the next generation, and encouraging them to explore the endless opportunities that a career in engineering can offer."

The ‘Engineering 2021: A barometer of the profession in Ireland’ is the latest in an annual assessment of employment trends in the sector by Engineers Ireland and featured nearly 2,000 responses to a survey of Engineers Ireland members conducted online between 12-26 January 2021.

Now in its 15th year, STEPS Engineers Week is coordinated by Engineers Ireland's STEPS programme - funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and industry leaders Arup, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).  Highlights of the week-long campaign include:

  • The Irish premiere of the Emmy-nominated Mission Unstoppable series, featuring STEPS Ambassador and NASA Datanaut, Fionnghuala O’Reilly.
  • Free-to-attend and on-demand virtual engineering shows for primary and secondary students by Explorium, Scientific Sue and other STEM professionals
  • Free engineering resources and activities, such as teacher challenge packs for primary and secondary school students, engineering trails and quizzes, available in both English and Irish
  • Meet an Engineer online events and podcasts, where students can hear from engineers at all stages of their careers and working in a variety of disciplines. A Women in Engineering series, featuring inspiring engineers such as 2020 All-Ireland camogie champion, Denise Gaule, will also launch this week in advance of International Women’s Day on 8 March.
  • Sustainability events and workshops to celebrate World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development on 4 March.
  • Free documentaries, such as The Story of Water by Irish Water, which also includes accompanying worksheets which are perfect for school or at home. 

To access the Engineering 2021 report in full, visit: https://www.engineersireland.ie/Professionals/News-Insights/Campaigns-and-policies/Reports/Engineering-barometer

To download free resources, including engineering activities, shows and documentaries, visit: https://www.engineersireland.ie/schools/engineers-week