Number of graduates over the next two years will not meet demand

Three leading representative organisations in the construction-related fields have described the lack of graduates in the sector as a critical concern for the future development of Ireland.

Students, particularly female students, with an interest in STEM urged to put a construction related programme as their first CAO choice

Tuesday 16th February 2016. Three leading representative organisations in the construction-related fields have described the lack of graduates in the sector as a critical concern for the future development of Ireland.

Recent findings indicate that there will be a substantial deficit of engineering and surveying graduates to meet the predicted future demand for the construction sector in Ireland.

As a result the chief executives of the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI), Engineers Ireland and the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) have come together to point out the many career opportunities which exist for students who prioritise construction related programmes on their CAO applications.

Caroline Spillane, Director General, Engineers Ireland said there was a trend in how economic factors adversely affect the graduate supply.

“In 2001 when the dot com bust occurred, prospective third level students did not choose computing courses on their CAO applications and four years later there was a shortage. It is forecasted that in 2017 only 38 civil engineers will graduate in Ireland which is a direct consequence of the construction crash.“

“Civil, electrical, technological and construction-related engineering skills are in great demand to meet the requirements of our growing economy and to deliver on the Government’s capital plan which includes major development of infrastructure and housing over the next six years and beyond” she said.

Patricia Byron, Director General of the SCSI expressed similar concerns in relation to the surveying industry. “Based on a conservative forecast of economic growth up to December 2019 (3% growth p.a.), over 2,000 new jobs are expected to be created across the surveying profession, split evenly across construction and property roles.  Looking at current student enrolments on surveying courses, there will only be enough Irish graduates to fill half of those positions” she said.

Dr Sarah Ingle, Secretary General, ACEI said that using Building Information Modelling (BIM) and other virtual technologies, as well as on-site activities, graduates working in construction can enjoy a satisfying career with continuing professional development and training and significant opportunities for advancement.

Engineers Ireland pointed out that while there is more uptake in engineering at third-level in recent years the gender divide persists. Caroline Spillane said that, while the outlook is positive in that there was a 9% increase in CAO first preferences for engineering/technology degree programmes in 2015, there is still a lack of gender diversity in these programmes.

“Despite engineers being renowned for their innovation, ingenuity and problem-solving skills, the profession still has to overcome its long-standing challenge of attracting and retaining female engineers“ she said.

Echoing calls for prospective students, in particular female students, to consider third-level courses focused on the development of the built environment in Ireland,  Dr Ingle urged both female and male applicants with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) interests, to put a construction related programme as their first preference CAO choice.

“There is currently a huge shortage of graduates entering the now growing construction industry in Ireland which contains a wide variety of career prospects. We would like to particularly encourage young women to enter this exciting field, and to take the opportunity to make a very real and lasting contribution to Irish and international infrastructure and buildings in a wide variety of civil, structural, mechanical and electrical projects” Dr Ingle said.

The online facility to amend CAO course choices became available on the 5th February, allowing applicants to make changes up until 1st July.