Key points for selected engineering occupations
- In 2014, there were approximately 23,000 persons employed in the selected engineering occupations, representing 1.2% of national employment (Figure 9.2.1)
- Approximately half of overall employment was concentrated in manufacturing (mostly pharmaceuticals and machinery/equipment), with an additional one fifth concentrated in professional, scientific and technical activities (mostly architectural & engineering activities; technical testing and analysis)
- Almost 60% of total employment in the selected engineering occupations was at a professional level (i.e. engineers); the remainder was at technician level
- Between 2009 and 2014, employment growth in engineering occupations was the strongest recorded amongst the 17 broad occupational groups examined (6.5% on average annually); with the exception of other engineering professionals, employment expanded in all occupations, with the strongest growth rates observed for production, design & QC engineers (12.2% on average annually) and electrical/electronic engineers (11.2% on average annually) (Figure 9.2.2)
- Over the same five year period, in absolute terms, employment increased by approximately 6,000; the largest increase was recorded for production, design & QC engineers (almost 3,000); meanwhile, employment in other engineering professionals remained relatively static
- Between 2013 and 2014, overall employment in engineering occupations contracted by 1.8%; with the exception of other engineering professionals,employment levels in all occupations remained relatively static
- Over four fifths of persons employed in each occupation was aged 25-54 (Figure 9.2.3)
- Just over 90% of employed engineering professionals held third level qualifications; the share was almost 75% for engineering technicians (Figure 9.2.4)
- The share of females employed in engineering professional occupations
(15%) and technician occupations (21%) was well below the national average (46%); the overall workforce of process, production and QA technicians had the highest share of females, at 35%
- The majority of employed engineering professionals and technicians worked fulltime and were Irish-nationals
- In quarter 4 2014, the overall unemployment rate for engineering occupations (at 5.1%) was well below the national average rate of almost 10%.
In 2014, 13,000 engineers and 10,000 engineering technicians were working in Ireland, with the majority employed in the manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical activities sectors.
The age profile of engineering occupations is somewhat younger than the national average (particularly for electronic, design and development engineers). In addition, exits to economic inactivity are not estimated to be large, with the total annual replacement demand (including retirement) estimated at 1,500.
However, the expected strong performance of the professional, scientific and technical services sector, as well as the move to higher value added activities in manufacturing, is likely to bring the annual recruitment requirement to well over 2,000.
Strong demand for engineering skills is confirmed in numerous job announcements, including ABEC (engineered process equipment for biopharmaceutical manufacturing), EPS(water and wastewater treatment), Schwungrad Energie Limited (Europe’s first grid connected to a hybrid flywheel system service facility).
The vacancy data for 2014 supports this finding (3,000 vacancies advertised on the PES and Irishjobs.ie portals alone), although a share of vacancies for engineers is arising due to turnover, which is somewhat more pronounced in the area of quality control.
The number of third level engineering graduates is estimated at just fewer than 4,300 (2013/2014), of which approximately one half are at honours bachelor degree or postgraduate level. This does not include graduates from the new provision in polymer technology in Sligo IT (level 6/7) and Athlone IT (level 8). In addition, in May 2015, there were 400 engineers and 270 engineering technicians (third level graduates) who were job-ready job seekers.
Despite a significant supply of engineering skills emerging from the education system and a number of unemployed persons with engineering skills, shortages continue to exist. In 2014, 380 engineers were sourced from outside the EEA.
At professional level shortages of the following skills have been identified:
- Production and process engineering - process automation and system control (computer numerical control (CNC), computer aided design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM)), production planning and supply chain management and integration (e.g. medical devices, biotech and pharmaceuticals)
- Product development and design engineering (in medical devices, biotech and the pharmaceutical industry)
- Quality control, assurance and validation engineering (e.g. computer validation systems, regulatory compliance.
- Electrical engineering (e.g. electrical safety testing for medical devices)
- Electronic engineering
- Chemical engineering - specialised roles in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry
- Mechanical engineering - waste water and purification treatment, polymer and injection moulding.
At technician level, shortages have been identified in the area of electronic engineering (generic roles and in Surface Mount Technology (SMT)/PTH Rework Operators (electronic printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).