ACE addresses engineer skills and graduate shortages with ACEC in the US

Skills shortages, recruitment and retention, and new project procurement and delivery systems were top of the agenda when the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) visited the US last week.

Speaking at ACE's US counterparts, the American Council of Engineering Companies in Washington DC, chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin said: "The engineering shortage in the UK stems from essentially three factors. First is the lack of sufficient numbers of engineering students graduating from our universities, second, is the growing attraction of engineering graduates to other fields outside engineering, such as banking and finance and the legal profession, and third, is the accelerated demand for more engineers than ever before to meet unprecedented growth in the construction industry."

In both the UK and US growing awareness of the shortage of engineers has led to national concern and a renewed emphasis on maths, science and engineering education.

In the area of new project delivery systems, both the UK and the US have experienced significant growth in the use of design-build, privately sponsored public works projects and public-private partnerships, trends that are challenging the traditional practice of consultancy firms.

ACEC president Dave Raymond said: "Because of the similar challenges we are facing and the growth of US companies operating in the UK and vice versa, the cooperation of ACE and ACEC in examining areas of mutual interest is beneficial to both parties."

While in the US, Ogunshakin also took the opportunity to visit ACE's Canadian counterparts, the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, for bilateral discussions on a range of industry issues including opportunities for business and closer working between UK and Canadian firms.