There’s no denying it: the world is currently experiencing a shortage of engineers. The shortage isn’t limited to a single country, either. Nations worldwide are reporting shortages in a variety of engineering fields. In Canada, there are a little over 250,000 currently employed engineers. Experts estimate that by 2020, approximately 95,000 of those engineers will reach retirement. With engineering programs churning out approximately 12,000 new engineers each year, there simply isn’t enough talent to replace retiring engineers.

Despite having a relatively small population, Canada is well known for producing some of the world’s top engineers, with 3 Canadian schools ranking on the list of the world’s top 50 engineering schools last year. One issue facing the engineering industry is the lack of young people interested in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). We must strive to get more young people interested in these fields early. Canada designating March as National Engineering Month is a good start.

There’s also the issue of losing senior engineers. 62% of employers say that new engineering graduates do not have the skills they need, reports The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). This inability to fill senior roles is a contributing factor to the engineering skills gap. With the median age of engineers on the rise, this is an issue that’s not going away anytime soon.

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where are the biggest skills gaps in canadian engineering?

According to the 2016 Global Engineering Report, conducted by Staffing Industry Analysts, employers are reporting “significant skills shortages in the engineering sectors.” The shortages aren’t limited to a single engineering discipline. Here are some of the top fields where skilled engineering talent is desperately needed.

how are engineering shortages affecting canada's economy?

Engineering jobs provide a foundation for other jobs. According to Engineering UK’s 2016 report ‘The State of Engineering,’ for every new engineering role created, two additional jobs are created on a broader scale. Simply put, strong job opportunities for engineers helps build infrastructure and drive innovation in satellite industries. When engineers are successful, we all are.

The reverse is also true. When engineering jobs cannot be filled, projects may be delayed or understaffed, which can impact the profitability of companies and affect their customer relationships. When organizations have trouble recruiting in engineering fields, there’s a trickle-down effect. Therefore, efficiently finding engineers becomes even more important, to ensure there’s no ripple effect in key job markets that rely on the expertise of engineers, such as manufacturing, resource extraction, construction, public service, and others.

The biggest issue facing Canadian engineering is the lack of interest in the field among young people. It’s in our best interest to ensure that we’re encouraging young Canadians to get into engineering and ensure they understand that there are opportunities for them to build a thriving career in the field.

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