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Engineering in Ireland, north and south

Engineering is an important source of employment for graduates both north and south of the border.

Engineering in Northern Ireland

During recent years, Northern Ireland has experienced major successes in the software, technology, telecoms and finance sectors, all of which provide employment for engineers, both directly and indirectly. This is welcome news for the 2,000 plus students who graduate each year in Northern Ireland with engineering or IT degrees.

The manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland includes some major global organisations such as Bombardier in the aerospace sector, Caterpillar in construction and mining manufacturing and DuPont in chemical manufacturing. Key innovations such as the vertical take-off jet, the portable defibrillator and the pneumatic tyre have originated in Northern Ireland. Companies in this sector are major employers, providing jobs for about 13 per cent of the workforce.

The telecoms and electronics sector in Northern Ireland is world renowned, and it is considered a ‘centre of excellence’ in the sector. Key players in the industry include Daewoo, Openwave, BT, Fujitsu and Nortel Networks. Telecoms software and wireless application development are two key areas of expertise.

There are over 700 companies in the ICT and software sectors in Northern Ireland. These include over a 100 international operations such as SAP, HP, Oracle and Microsoft.

Northern Ireland is at the forefront of research and development (R&D), with a number of centres/institutes carrying out breakthrough research in the areas of electronics, computing/software, engineering, material and telecoms. There is ongoing collaboration between aerospace companies and local universities, leading to the development of cutting-edge technologies.

Engineering in the Republic of Ireland

Engineering forms a significant part of the Irish Republic's economy – there are over 1,300 engineering enterprises in Ireland in total. Over 170 international engineering firms are multinational, working in key sectors such as automotive, electrical engineering, aerospace, materials handling and automation. Many leading firms are also expanding into areas such as advanced manufacturing, research and development, supply chain management and shared services. In recent years, the growth areas have been in electrical engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. A decline in manufacturing has been balanced by a focused drive by the government and industry to increase activities in research and development.