More than 6,000 new jobs are being planned by Engineers Ireland members next year, however the vast majority of firms are also seeing an ongoing skills shortage.
A new survey has found that almost 60% of organisations were planning to hire civil and building engineers next year, while close to 40% would be looking for mechanical and manufacturing talent. However at this stage it is hard to know how many of those will find suitable candidates.
"If we have an expected out-turn of about 3,000 college graduates this year, in what disciplines are they going into and what areas is the demand in?," said Caroline Spillane, director general of Engineers Ireland.
"But we can look at where engineers are required - areas like the manufacturing industry, where a huge number of engineers are employed, construction of course is increasing and we can look at disciplines of engineering that's really in demand," Ms Spillane said.
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The long-term fix for the skills shortage is, as ever, focused on increasing the flow of students taking up STEM courses and ensuring there are enough suitable places available in colleges around the country. However the companies looking to hire over the next year need a shorter-term solution, which Ms Spillane says is built largely on training and immigration.
"Employers are looking at growth factors within their control - so one of the areas that they're particularly focused on is upskilling and reskilling the existing employee base that they have," she said, adding that manufacturing and data analytics are areas where this is happening a lot.
"But also employers are looking at bringing in engineers from oversees. Engineers Ireland saw 20% of our new members from last year were engineers that came from overseas. We're doing everything we can to help them understand what the nature of work in Ireland is about, and help them to get registered and established here," she added.
Ms Spillane said there may also be a bank of workers out there who had left engineering during the downturn and are now employed in completely unrelated fields. Despite the difficulties firms are expecting to face in terms of talent, they are still optimistic about their future prospects, however. Engineers Ireland's survey found that 89% of members expect their financial position to improve next year - that is also despite the impact of Brexit.
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