Global Engineering Capability Review
Six country case studies
The Engineering Index 2019 provides a review of engineering strength and the extent to which countries can conduct engineering in a safe and innovative way. However, to develop local engineering capability and achieve local economic and social goals, countries also need to identify gaps in their engineering capability. The need for specific engineering capabilities will differ by country, depending on national goals, the quality of local education systems, income level, local environment and economic structure.
The EIU has assessed sectoral growth prospects across 20 countries (see
Appendix 2).  Expected growth rates vary dramatically across countries and sectors. Supporting sectoral growth requires an analysis of the number of engineers needed by sector, as well as the specific engineering skills required across sectors to conduct engineering in a safe and innovative way. These sectoral growth forecasts can help policymakers identify potential areas to consider when designing policies that enhance domestic engineering capability.
While an understanding of sectoral growth trends is important, it is equally important to recognise that engineering capability needs are diverse, as are the types of responses required. In some instances, this could mean producing more engineers, but more often it will mean producing higher quality engineers through education, training and professional development. To shed light on these engineering capability challenges and potential responses, we have identified six engineering capability gaps around the world.
Universal challenges, diverse applications
Each country highlighted here faces specific engineering capability challenges that are unique to their environments, education systems and economic structures. However, in the course of this research, we identified three cross-cutting challenges that affected each country, revealing some common barriers to developing engineering capability:
Lack of collaboration between industry and academia. According to experts, professors are out of touch with industry needs in some instances, resulting in coursework or research that does not address relevant challenges. In other instances, students have limited opportunities to gain hands-on work experience through internships that allow them to apply their engineering skills.
Concerns about the quality of engineering education. In some cases, graduates are seen as lacking the basic skills needed to perform the functions of an engineering job. In others, engineering pedagogy is deemed to be out of date, and coursework does not closely mirror the demands of the workplace. Experts also noted that engineering education needs to be more interdisciplinary, providing students with academic experiences in other disciplines (such as the arts, humanities and social sciences) as well as leadership, communication and collaboration skills.
Lack of professional development opportunities and globally recognised standards for engineers who are currently employed. In some instances, recent graduates have not received the required opportunities to learn by doing in their chosen discipline. In other cases, a lack of standards or accreditation means that employers question the quality and consistency of engineering skills, even among seasoned professionals. At the global level, engineers from countries that do not align their training curricula with global or regional standards, such as the Washington Accord, experience limitations to mobility and opportunities.
Countries and case studies were selected at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s request, with EIU input.