The global demand for engineers has risen significantly over the years as the world competes to cater for the needs of a growing population. With limited resources available, countries have turned to innovation and technology to come up with solutions that will allow them to remain attractive economically and draw in foreign investment. As a fierce battle looms between countries for an increasingly scarce labor force, what are some of the best countries to be an engineer?
Germany has long stood the test of time to emerge as a champion in the engineering field, reputed for its technical universities, internships and perhaps a culture and an economy that rewards engineering skills with both prestige and career growth. The country is famous for its worldwide products such as the Mercedes and BMW. It is also the home for great thinkers such as Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen who discovered X-rays (and won the Nobel Prize in Physics for this) as well as Heinrich Rudolph’s work that has led to the telecommunications of modern day.
A booming economy has widened the shortage for engineers and a steadily rising demand for developing sustainable mobility and energy solutions are also contributing to the problem. The government has set up an initiative to increase the number of engineering students as well as encourage women to pursue this line of work (out of a million engineers, only 13% are women).
Policymakers in Germany have also implemented changes in immigration to allow German companies to hire engineers from other countries, including those outside of the European Union.
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2. United States
In an increasingly global driven economy, innovation stands out as the key for survival in terms of attracting and retaining investments. The push for more innovation is tightly intertwined with a digital economy and the USA’s ability to produce jobs while maintaining a competitive edge in world markets.
Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook are some of the innovative global technology leaders founded in USA. All are changing the world today in dramatic way and need more engineers. However, it is increasingly hard to find enough qualified engineers in USA, resulting in companies moving jobs offshore to India and China where they graduate many more engineers. Already, 70% of engineers with PHD’s who graduate from U.S. universities are foreign-born. Increasingly, these talented individuals are returning home, where they find greater opportunities. Engineering schools are seeing their student populations’ decline which translates to a reduction in the number of qualified engineers that U.S. companies so desperately need.
Currently, the government is implementing measures to attract and retain the best and brightest students, scientists and engineers in the U.S. and around the world.
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China is the world’s second largest economy with unparalleled infrastructure and technological advances that have set it on an unbeatable path towards global economic dominance.
In 2011, the Chinese government approved a new five year development plan that will focus on seven priority areas: new energy, new materials, new IT, high end equipment manufacturing, biotechnology, energy conservation and environmental conservation; and clean energy vehicles. This will push the country into a sustainable economic framework, creating many opportunities in higher value-added technologies.
Norway’s booming oil sector is set for steady growth in the years ahead as new discoveries are brought online, and demand for fixed and floating offshore structures continue to drive growth. As Europe’s second-biggest gas supplier and the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter, the country has struggled with falling output in recent years and needs to bring new fields online to boost production.
One of the biggest problems Norway faces is a serious skill shortage in the engineering field. The battle for engineers is fierce, and many of the largest engineering companies in Norway are showing a need for more of them. Norway needs thousands of engineers, as at the moment only about half of the engineers it needs are being trained in the country.
To cope with the labor shortage, the oil industry is establishing engineering and manufacturing bases overseas. The ratio of foreign workers has also risen.
A country that sets high value on engineering skills and expertise, Denmark has a specialist environment for innovation and excellence. The Femern Belt project is ranked among the world’s most innovative of its kind. The 18 km long tunnel is going to become the world’s longest underwater tunnel linking Germany to Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia.
Danish industries of major importance include cleantech (wind power, bio-energy, electric vehicles), ICT (wireless and mobile technology, software, acoustics), life sciences (bio-tech, med-tech) and maritime (shipping, offshore and advanced maritime technology), all of which offer possibilities for engineers.
The labor market for engineers is dynamic as opportunities are abundant. There is a great demand for chemical engineers, electrical and electrical power engineers, mechanical and production engineers; as well as engineers specialized in environment and energy sectors. Also, Denmark’s vast shipping and maritime industries offer various engineering opportunities.
6. South Korea
South Korea has a very advanced and modern infrastructure. Both the South Korean government and the private sector are involved in the financing, construction, and operation of various infrastructure projects and services. The South Korean government is investing into a new green smart grid project that is expected to create 500,000 tech jobs.
South Korea is planning to push for technology convergence between industries in an effort to advance key industries to a higher level and subsequently create high-quality jobs. The government intends to help the nation’s leading industries such as tech, auto and shipbuilding sectors blend their technologies and develop newly advanced products such as smart cars, green cars and green ships.
Over the first 20 years of the 21st century, the government will spend more than US$300 billion on airports, roads, railways, and mega-resorts. Additionally, it will spend US$60 billion on the construction of more than 100 new power-generation facilities.
Undisputedly the strongest economy in Latin America, Brazil has emerged as the seventh largest economy globally as it prepares to host the World Cup 2014 and Olympic Games 2016. It is also experiencing a boom in its IT industry as entrepreneurs around the world are setting up shop to reap from this emerging market.
Despite its market size infrastructure is poor by international standards. This can be attributed to the rapid growth of its middle class, increased pre salt oil explorations and the demands of hosting two major sporting events within a close period of time.
A mixture of favorable demographics and a resilient services sector has resulted in a buoyant labor market. However, there is a shortage of qualified workers within the region. New industries in Brazil and demand for better infrastructure have led to a significant demand for engineers within the region.
Taiwan was recently placed among the wealthiest, most innovative and most digitized nations in the world. Taiwan is the world’s leading manufacturer of semiconductors and laptop computers. Its manufacturing, IT and technology sectors remain traditionally strong. Taiwan’s exports (which include electronics, machinery and petrochemicals) have been the major drivers of its economic development.
Taiwan’s employment prospects continue to improve. In the manufacturing sector, companies are increasing their total workforce. One of the hardest jobs to fill is engineering which is in high demand in the IT sector. The Taiwan government is ready to recruit foreigners to meet the current workforce gap.