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Engineering a good career

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Peter Brabazon, director of the Discover Science and Engineering Programme, the national integrated awareness programme managed by Forfás on behalf of the Office of Science and Technology, recently commented that a qualification in the area of technology will be a passport to a wealth of career options for today's Leaving Cert students.

According to a recent report by Engineering Ireland entitled Engineering a Knowledge Island 2020, the number of people in engineering occupations will be required to rise from 40,000 (in 2001 to 2002) to 110,000 (by 2020) to meet demand. The number in IT occupations will be required to rise from 42,000 to 115,000.

However, the jobs aren't a few years away, they are here now. Chartered engineer Margie McCarthy, project manager for STEPS to engineering, an initiative to promote engineering as a career for young people run by Engineers Ireland, says there is huge demand for newly qualified technology and engineering graduates, due to the large amount of job announcements in various industries that have been made recently.

Adults thinking of re-education in the areas of engineering or technology could be fairly confident of having a variety of career opportunities in front of them on graduation. According to McCarthy, technology and engineering influence so many areas. "The most important thing we're trying to get across is that they touch the medical industry, the phone industry, entertainment, computers as well as space travel and energy renewal," she explains.

Brabazon says graduates from computer science and electronic engineering courses are going to be in increasing demand in the future. "While traditionally, computer science, electronic engineering and other technology courses woul have led to a career in the IT sector, in reality that is only part of the picture. Core technology skills open up a wide range of extremely varied career prospects with attractive salaries and great opportunities for travel," he says.