The accelerating pace of technological advance, global competition, demand for customised products, flexible business practices and social and political change all mean huge challenges for professional engineers. This was the message given by IEE President David Jefferies.
‘I welcome the fact that the Government has acknowledged the importance of life-long learning for all, but for professional engineers, and the companies that employ them, life-long learning is not optional but essential,’ he said. ‘The range and depth of engineering knowledge is expanding so rapidly that a good engineering degree has a half-life of only four years. Keeping abreast of new technology is vital.’
The IEE President went on to warn that technical skills were not the only ones required by the modern professional engineer in today’s challenging environment.
‘Given our fast changing world, it is not surprising that engineers often get trapped in their technology, but new skills are also needed. Over the past few years the IEE has been acutely aware of the importance of making sure that its members are rounded people knowledgeable on the many issues that impact on society today, be they political, social or environmental.
‘The demands of individual engineers are therefore great. Indeed I doubt that any other profession asks as much of its members.’
Mr Jefferies went on to identify the role that the IEE is committed to play in meeting the training, technical updating and career needs of its members. ‘The IEE is devoting considerable effort and resource to ensuring that all its continuing professional development programmes are relevant and focused. That is why we are consulting widely among members and other bodies including non-engineering industries.’