Global Engineering Capability Review

About this report

The role of engineers continues to evolve in the face of rapid technological, economic and social change. In order to adapt to these changes, policymakers, educators and business executives must address two key challenges:

1. Understanding their country’s relative engineering strength, and

2. Identifying and addressing engineering capability gaps.

In the remaining sections of this report, we examine these challenges more closely. First, we discuss findings from the Engineering Index 2019, which outlines each country’s relative engineering strength.

We then explore specific engineering capability gaps for six countries around the world – Thailand, Ethiopia, Colombia, Jordan, India and China – brought to life through case studies.

We conclude the report with general recommendations based on findings from the research programme.

Find out more about how the Engineering Index was developed:

More about the report

Quantitative measures of engineering capability

Initial research for this report included a quantitative analysis of engineering capability for 20 countries. The purpose of this analysis was to estimate the total number of engineers that will be required in each country by 2023, based on sectoral GDP growth. Data challenges made it difficult to conduct a quantitative analysis of engineering capability. Details on these challenges are provided below.

Data gaps and reporting accuracy. The International Labor Organisation (ILO) is the best source for information on workers by occupation on a global basis. However, the ILO does not receive data on workers by occupation from every country. In the initial quantitative analysis, the ILO could provide data on 15 of 20 countries, requiring us to develop estimates for those countries for which it does not collate data. A lack of data represents a critical barrier to assessing the number of engineers active in today’s workforce, as well as needs for the future.

Additionally, the ILO’s headline indicators are dependent on national labour force surveys. The methodologies for these surveys may not be directly comparable, based on a number of factors including the country’s economic resources. Furthermore, ILO data sometimes contradicts findings from other national sources.

Defining the term 'engineer'. There were challenges identifying a global dataset that defined and categorised workers as engineers. We were able to access data on workers by occupation at the most granular level available from the ILO: 'Science & Engineering Professionals'. However, engineers only make up a small portion of this group, which also includes occupations such as physical and earth science professionals, mathematicians, actuaries and statisticians. We were unable to split out 'engineering professionals' consistently across countries based on the publicly available data, which made assessing the true number of engineers in the current workforce challenging.

Access the Engineering Index dataset

The authors of this review have published the full dataset from the Index, along with a detailed engineering capability gap analysis. These can be downloaded as Excel spreadsheets here: