The demand for engineers is on the rise. The demands for companies to be more competitive and improve their manufacturing processes by applying new technologies require qualified workers with new skills that can meet the new demands of the sector.
According to the 2022 Hays report, in the last year, in the production area alone, the demand for engineers with high qualifications, versatility and people management skills has doubled. Likewise, the need for professionals in the maintenance area has grown; and an upward trend appears in the hiring of experts in the area of research, development and innovation, due to the fact that business strategies seek to achieve competitive improvements.
Some figures estimate that the demand for engineers has grown by 20% over the previous year and forecasts remain optimistic. There is a clear trend to hire professionals prepared to apply new technologies to the entire value chain of industries.
According to Jordi Ayza, industrial engineer, professor at the Tecnocampus Higher Polytechnic School, the European Commission points out the need for "a very important change in the skills of industrial workers, especially engineers", in order to move towards energy transition and smart industry. Among the competencies, digitization, automation and advances in data analytics and artificial intelligence stand out. Likewise, more and more “flexible, versatile professionals with special communication skills and, in addition, with people management skills and a high level of English” are required.
One of the important issues related to the demand for engineers is that of salary levels. “As a country, we are facing a reactivation scenario driven by availability. however, we must face the unknowns that the evolution of the pandemic but, above all, inflation, rising costs and supply problems, pose to the development of the economy”, explains Ayza. In this sense, he emphasizes that companies need to invest and carry out reforms and, at the same time, be prudent. “This directly affects the labor market causing a situation of stagnation in the evolution of wages”, he adds.
According to the Hays study, a project engineer, with between 2 and 5 years' experience, has an average salary of around 35,000 euros and an engineering manager, with between 5 and 10 years' experience, the average salary is in the order of the 55,000 euros.
Given the demand for highly qualified engineers, universities and training centers must train more scientists, engineers and technicians with these new skills that favor industrial innovation and that allow them to advance their companies towards the objectives of competitiveness and contribution to climate neutrality.
According to the GEREC report, a report promoted by the PIMEC and the College of Economists of Catalonia, an important aspect involves promoting collaboration channels between universities and companies. “The improvement of productivity and the improvement of the transfer between university and company, are key ways to achieve it. And this requires having well-trained and competent professionals, with quality undergraduate training and permanent training dynamics, and an effective link between university and company, both in training and in applied industrial research”, explains Ayza.
The TecnoCampus professor believes that industrial doctorates, business chairs, technological development projects carried out jointly between companies and university research groups, as well as any initiative that brings knowledge closer to industrial needs, should be promoted.
In this sense, the GEREC report proposes, as objectives for 5 years, that industrial activity in Catalonia should come to represent 25% of GDP (according to Idescat, in 2021 it was 18.6%) and that high-value exports added account for a quarter of global sales abroad.
Currently, from the Department of Business and Work, Catalonia is developing the National Agreement for Industry 2022-2025, which takes into account the European industrial model. This model is based on traditional factors such as the quality of the manufactured product, compliance with the specifications agreed with the client, efficiency and profitability. But it goes further, since it is based on respect for high social, labor and environmental standards. And this model influences training, research and investments.
As Ayza points out, the training of engineers and qualified professionals to follow these guidelines will help to boost the industrial sector. It is an important sector, which creates jobs at all levels of qualification, promotes research and development, adds value to the economy and favors the service companies on which it relies to carry out its activity.