Engineering graduate numbers ‘triple in Mexico’

Royal Academy of Engineering report reveals which countries are proving most effective in training up engineers to drive economic growth

September 23, 2016
Engineers on building site checking plans
Source: iStock
There is a strong business case for governments to try and increase the supply of engineering graduates

A report offers a detailed breakdown of the trends in engineering education across the globe.

Commissioned by Britain’s Royal Academy of Engineering, Engineering and Economic Growth: A Global View brings together a mass of research carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, an independent consultancy.

At its heart is an Engineering Index of 99 countries, topped by Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, which clearly indicates “a demonstrable, positive, link between engineering and economic development across the world”.

Along with factors such as the number of firms, remuneration of engineers, quality of (physical and digital) infrastructure and exports of engineering-related goods, the index takes account of “engineering human capital”, as revealed in numbers of students and graduates and their gender balance.

In terms of increases in “engineering and engineering trades” graduates for the period 2008 to 2012, Mexico dramatically tops the poll, with numbers tripling to 71,300 (or 0.06 per cent of the population, compared with 0.04 per cent in the US).

Much of the credit for this, claims the report, comes down to the ambitions of former president Felipe Calderon to turn Mexico into a “country of engineers”. During his period of office , “the government built 140 new schools of higher learning (universities), with 120 of them dedicated to science and engineering”. Hungary was the only other country that even came close to doubling its number of engineering graduates between 2008 and 2012.

When it comes to gender parity, the latest data on engineering graduates indicate that Myanmar (at 65 per cent women), Tunisia (42 per cent) and Honduras (41 per cent) have the most impressive figures, while Ghana and Saudi Arabia rank as the worst performers.

Yet, “many richer countries”, the report points out, also “have a poor recent record in this area”, since “only 12.5 per cent of Japanese engineering graduates in 2013 were women, followed by 14 per cent in Switzerland and 18.9 per cent in the US”.

In the UK, 22 per cent of engineering graduates are female, while the European average is 28 per cent.

Equally intriguing are the trends in this area. Although “the majority of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries have increased the number of female engineering graduates over the period 2008-12…the most notable increases were in the emerging economies of Mexico, Hungary and Turkey (by over 150 per cent)”.

The UK and US, meanwhile, lag behind with increases of only 31 and 24 per cent, respectively.

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