Key points for selected engineering occupations
- In 2015, there were approximately 27,000 persons employed in the selected engineering occupations, representing 1.4% of national employment.
- Almost 80% of overall employment was concentrated in three sectors: 50% in manufacturing (mostly pharmaceuticals and machinery/equipment), with almost an additional 20% in professional, scientific and technical activities (mostly architectural/engineering activities), and 11% in information and communication.
- Just over 50% of total employment was at professional level (i.e. engineers); the remainder was at technician level.
- Between 2010 and 2015, employment growth in engineering occupations was the strongest recorded amongst the 17 broad occupational groups examined (6% on average annually); the strongest growth rates were observed for process, production and QA technicians (12.7% on average annually) and production, design and QC engineers (10.9%); in contrast, the weakest growth rates were observed for electrical/electronic engineers and other engineering professionals (each at just over 1% on average annually)
- With the exception of other engineering professionals, over four fifths of persons employed in each occupation was aged 25-54 ; almost a quarter of those employed as other engineering professionals was aged 55 or older
- Over 90% of employed engineering professionals were third level graduates; the share was 70% for engineering technicians
- Over four fifths of those employed in engineering professional occupations were male; the share was just over 70% for technicians; two fifths of employed process, production and QA techicians were female – the highest share of females among the selected occupations
- The majority of employed engineering professionals and technicians worked fulltime and were Irish-nationals.
The majority of the 27,000 people working in engineering occupations in 2015 were employed in the manufacturing or professional, scientific and technical activities sectors.
The age profile of those in engineering occupations is younger than the national average and exits to retirement are therefore expected to be relatively small.
The total replacement demand for engineering professionals is estimated to be less than 2,000 annually.
The expected strong performance of the industry, 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 Shire (biotechnology), Merck (pharma), Grant Engineering (heating equipment), DePuy (medical devices), CRI Medical Devices and Chanelle Group (human/vet pharma).
The vacancy data for 2015 supports this finding (there were almost 3,000 engineering professional vacancies advertised on the PES and Irishjobs.ie portals alone).
The number of third level engineering graduates is estimated at 4,800, more than half of which were at NFQ 8 or higher.
In addition, in May 2016, there were 280 engineers and 220 engineering technicians (with at least a degree-level (NFQ 7) qualifications) 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.
At professional level, shortages have been identified for engineers, typically for roles in pharmaceutical and medical devices manufacturing. The demand relates largely to those with significant experience (at least five years) in industry specific settings.
Job titles include:
- Process/bioprocess engineers: experience and specific skills sets, including: process analytical technology (PAT) and quality by design (QbD); process safety; lean processes (Green Belt, Black Belt)
- Automation/validation/commissioning engineers: with experience in CSV/CQV; lean processes
- quality/QC/QA engineers & other regulatory affairs professionals
- R&D engineers: development of new technologies and therapies (e.g. gene and stem cell therapy; biologics, etc.)
- Chemical/chemical process engineers
- Mechanical engineers: with skills and experience in polymer engineering and injection moulding
- Electrical engineers
- Global and industrial managers and engineers (10 years’ experience): mostly for export-manufacturing sectors.
At technician level, shortages have been identified for:
- Quality assurance technicians
- Injection moulding technicians
- Polymer engineering technicians
- Biotechnology technicians
- Extrusion technicians
- Process technologists
- Maintenance technicians.
There also appears to be an issue with geographical mobility and the ability to attract candidates to certain locations.