Engineering industry survey highlights regional skills shortages

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L-R John Gilsenan, Market Dynamics; Roseline Dalton, Chair of South East Regional Skills Forum (SERSF); and Edmond Connolly, Manager at SERSF, pictured at the launch of the ‘Evaluation of the Engineering Skills and Training Needs of Manufacturing and Construction Sectors in the South East’ report carried out by SERSF and Egineering the South East cluster.

In a report carried out by the South East Regional Skills Forum (SERSF) and the Engineering the South East cluster to determine the skills capacity of the region’s engineering employers across manufacturing and construction, it was found that 48% of engineering-related companies in the south east highlighted a major shortage of necessary skills among talent.

The SERSF helps to bridge the gap between industry and various publicly-funded education and training providers. It has strong links with South East Technological University (SETU) which are enhanced by engaging with the Engineering the South East cluster to liaise on education and training in the field of engineering.

The report entitled, ‘Evaluation of the Engineering Skills and Training Needs of Manufacturing and Construction Sectors in the South East’ was carried out on 109 companies in the region with plans to grow their engineering staff by up to 7% in 2024. The most in-demand skills required are in the areas of mechanical and electrical engineering, and welding. Top upskilling needs identified were automation, digital transformation, and building information modelling (BIM).

The companies involved were from across the engineering sector in the region who collectively employ 18,000 people, 6,000 of whom are engineering-related staff. As the most comprehensive report of its kind to be gathered in recent years, its aim was to better understand the region’s supply of engineering talent, where there are gaps, and how they can be addressed. This includes opportunities for growth in the areas of upskilling, future talent demand, and engagement with higher education. Particular recommendations include developing courses of study in engineering that meet industry needs. This links in with the importance of promoting engineering, and STEM in general, at primary and secondary school ages, ensuring greater uptake of study at third level.

Speaking at the launch, Roseline Dalton, Chair of the South East Regional Skills Forum, Roseline said,  “This report provides clear data on the magnitude of engineering skills shortages across the south east, as well as highlighting the specific skills required by employers. We hope it will serve as a resource for our education partners to focus upon engineering-related education, as this is one of the greatest challenges for manufacturing and construction companies in the region.”

Commenting on the findings, Stephen Rooney, Educational Outreach Manager for Engineering the South East said, “The number one pain-point that our cluster members report is the lack of availability of skilled engineering staff. We know the demand is there but have never had the figures needed to determine the size of the problem. This report puts real numbers on what is clearly a huge and critical shortage for one of our region’s most important industrial sectors.”

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