The Engineering Barometer is an annual report from Engineers Ireland that tracks developments in engineering education, employment and perspectives. It has become an established resource for engineers, educators, policy-makers and recruiters.
One-in-five engineers was placed on a wage subsidy scheme at some point in the past year (falling to 2% in January 2021), suggesting that engineering organisations did not experience significant declines in revenue during 2020. In fact, two-thirds of engineers increased their salary in the past year and just one-in-twenty reported receiving a pay cut.
Approximately one-quarter of junior engineers said that their career had stalled due to the pandemic, and a similar proportion were in receipt of the wage subsidy at some point. Nevertheless, junior engineers remain positive about the engineering profession: more than 80% agreed that engineering is a rewarding career for young people and 74% said that there are plenty of job opportunities.
Engineering directors and managers are confident about growth in their organisations in 2021 with 79% planning to recruit engineers. Utilities (which include electricity, water, gas and telecommunications) intend to expand their engineering workforces in the year ahead with 94% of these companies looking to hire engineers.
Engineers across all sectors, disciplines and demographics see their role in protecting society with more than 90% stating that engineers are essential to reduce risks to public health and safety. There has been a substantial rise in the number of engineers strongly agreeing with this perspective over the last three years.
Seven-out-of-ten engineering employers expect their financial position to improve and engineering organisations would like to hire more than 5,000 engineers in 2020. 91% of engineering leaders list skills shortages as a barrier to growing their workforce and the National Skills Bulletin highlights the growing demand for engineering skills across R&D, construction, climate action and other sectors.
The continuing gender gap requires greater attention and action – in Ireland and internationally. While engineering is the most commonly cited occupation for 15-year-old boys, it does not feature in the top ten for girls. Most female engineers feel that the engineering sector in Ireland has better opportunities for men than it does for women.
According to the World Economic Forum 'Jobs of the Future': “Demand for both “digital” and “human” factors is driving growth in the professions of the future. […] On the one hand, these reflect the adoption of new technologies—giving rise to greater demand for green economy jobs, roles at the forefront of the data and AI economy as well as new roles in engineering, cloud computing and product development. On the other hand, emerging professions also reflect the continuing importance of human interaction in the new economy, giving rise to greater demand for care economy jobs; roles in marketing, sales and content production; as well as roles at the forefront of people and culture.”
Almost two-thirds of Irish adults (three-quarters of 16-24 year olds) are interested in finding out about new ideas in science and engineering and the public’s innovation priorities are health, climate change and education. The UN Sustainable Development Goals could act as a useful framework to tackle societal challenges while raising the standing of the profession.