There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to engineering best practice, but a new partnership aims to create global benchmarks for the international engineering community.
Commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the Global Engineering Capability Review measures the extent to which 99 countries can perform safe and innovative engineering practices.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) conducted the study, which involved an extensive literature review and interview program to examine six categories of engineering capability: contributions to and advancement of knowledge in engineering and technology; availability and diversity of the engineering labour force; the strength and sophistication of the engineering industry; physical infrastructure; digital infrastructure; and safety standards.
The top performers in each category were: United States in knowledge; Singapore in labour force; Japan in engineering industry; Switzerland in infrastructure; Singapore in digital infrastructure; and Singapore in safety standards. On the whole, Singapore was a standout, ranking first in three of the categories, and in the top 10 in five out of six categories.
Despite not ranking in the top 10 for each category, Australia held a respectable position within the field of 99 countries, placing third in safety standards, 11th in knowledge and 16th in infrastructure.
Quality over quantity
While many countries were found to have sufficient numbers of engineers, the study revealed concerns about the quality of engineering education and a lack of professional development opportunities, something that would require engagement from policymakers, business executives and the global engineering community to foster engineering talent.
The authors also suggested increased collaboration between the engineering regulation boards of different countries in order to facilitate greater movement of engineering labour.
Professor Richard Clegg, Chief Executive of not-for-profit Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said the world’s engineers have an immensely important role to play in improving human livelihood, creating better systems and mitigating risk.
“But they can only do so if these same countries understand their own engineering strengths, address their weaknesses and acknowledge where there are new and emerging safety challenges to be overcome,” he said.
“Many of these safety challenges cannot be tackled by working alone. We are partnering with the Academy because they can help us build coalitions with willing partners all around the world.”
The group, with funding to the tune of £15 million (AU$29.8 million), aims to bring together engineers, academics and business leaders to address engineering safety and sustainability challenges, with the goal of developing practical and accessible solutions for the engineering profession worldwide.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach and countries struggle to address all the factors that can contribute to engineering strength and to develop a pipeline of engineering talent that will match their growing and diverse needs. Engineering X has ambitious goals to help,” said Professor Peter Goodhew from Engineering X.
“We hope the Global Engineering Capability Review will help countries to learn from the achievements of others and to benchmark their progress towards remedying natural, economic and social problems in a safe and sustainable way.”