ENGINEERS BODY SAYS MORE TECHNICAL SKILLS NEEDED TO DRIVE POST-PANDEMIC ECONOMIC RECOVERY
Ireland needs more technical and STEM skills amongst its graduates to support Ireland’s post-pandemic recovery, Engineers Ireland has said. The professional membership body, launching STEPS Engineers Week 2021 which has gone virtual this year, said that upgrading the country’s infrastructure, enhancing economic capacity and promoting balanced regional development must be priorities for Government as part of the renewed National Development Plan (NDP), but a lack of technical and engineering skills remains a barrier.
Taking place nationwide from Saturday, 27 February until Friday, 5 March, STEPS Engineers Week is coordinated by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and industry leaders Arup, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Caroline Spillane, Director General of Engineers Ireland, said: “The Government’s review of the NDP is to be applauded, but its renewed goals can only be achieved if the next generation of graduates are equipped with the necessary technical and STEM skills to drive this. There are still concerns amongst our members and industry partners about the insufficient numbers in this regard.
“STEM skills have tangible, practical, and immediate applications for our daily lives and we must highlight opportunities to foster these skills at primary and secondary level to empower the next generation to address global challenges. That is why campaigns like STEPS Engineers Week are so vitally important, not just for the sector, but to respond to Ireland’s future skills needs.
By working collaboratively with engineering professionals, organisations, local authorities and schools across the country during STEPS Engineers Week, we can help to inspire our young people to explore the exciting world of STEM and the limitless opportunities a career in engineering can offer, so that they too can be equipped to respond to societal needs in the future”, Ms Spillane added.
Speaking about the launch of STEPS Engineers Week 2021, Neil Philip, Fab 24 Factory Manager at Intel Ireland, said: “We are proud to partner with the Engineers Ireland STEPS programme to encourage young people to explore the diverse world of engineering. STEPS Engineers Week provides a wonderful opportunity to shine a light on the role of engineers and to share their stories in the hope that they can inspire the next generation. We look forward to working closely with Engineers Ireland to help encourage all young people to embrace STEM subjects and to pursue pathways that can lead to the world of engineering.”
Marguerite Sayers, Executive Director of Customer Solutions at ESB and former President of Engineers Ireland, said: “The pandemic has presented Irish society with many obstacles which have changed how we work and required us to find new solutions quickly.
As our economy recovers from the pandemic, we must inspire new generations of skilled engineers to continue to deliver creative solutions so that they can play a central role in developing technologies to combat Climate Change and can deliver the renewed National Development Plan. This is why campaigns like STEPS Engineers Week are so important to our future and why we at ESB are proud to partner with Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme to inspire Ireland’s future engineering talent to create a brighter future.”
Marcos Sanchez, Director at Arup and Design Lead for the award-winning Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge, commented: “Arup has always been proud to support STEPS Engineers Week and this year is no different. The week has become an integral part of our calendar as it offers us the chance to inspire Ireland’s future engineers.
Every year, members of the Arup team look forward to engaging with primary and secondary school students and while we can’t do it in person, we are sure the week will still be a great success. This year has led us all to be more creative in our ways of thinking and working and we hope STEPS Engineers Week can inspire students to invent and create ideas to sustain Ireland’s future.”
Peter Walsh, CEO, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), said: “Transportation infrastructure will play a major role in Ireland’s future and Ireland’s engineers will be a critical part in delivering TII’s sustainable transport networks. TII welcomes the opportunity to highlight some of the great work currently underway across the country with primary and secondary school pupils. STEPS Engineers Week 2021 is a very important initiative that hopes to inspire young people to look towards engineering as a career that will stimulate both their creative energy and problem-solving skills. TII is proud to play our part.”
Now in its 15th year, STEPS Engineers Week 2021 will look a little different this year, but the message remains the same. Engineers Ireland is encouraging companies and industry all over Ireland, despite the current restrictions to engage with their communities virtually to showcase the profession over the course of the week which runs until Friday, 5 March.
Highlights of the week-long campaign, which aims to inspire the next generation of engineers and excite students about the possibilities a career in engineering can offer, include:
A virtual weekend of Family Fairs on Saturday, 27 and Sunday 28 February, featuring spectacular engineering shows and engaging engineering activities by IT Sligo, Foróige YES! Youth Engineering Solutions Programme and Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme team.
The Irish premiere of the Emmy-nominated Mission Unstoppable series, featuring STEPS Ambassador and NASA Datanaut, Fionnghuala O’Reilly.
Free-to-attend and on-demand virtual engineering shows for primary and secondary students by Explorium, Scientific Sue and other STEM professionals
Meet an Engineer online events, where students are encouraged to speak to engineers from a variety of disciplines, based in Ireland and globally
Sustainability events and workshops to celebrate World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development on 4 March
Accessible engineering resources and activities, including The Story of Water by Irish Water, which are free to access.
To find out more about events taking place virtually or to register an event visit: https://www.engineersireland.ie/schools
Denise Maguire Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine