Addressing Challenges of the SDGs: Stakeholder Perspectives on Skills Required by Engineering Students on the Island of Ireland (Research Paper)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Living sustainably on a shared island poses both challenges and opportunities for engineers of the future. Whilst at a European level, the professional skills that engineers will need to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been identified, less has been written on how these skills should be contextualised for a national, regional and/or local level. This research paper considers the specific professional skills required for engineers on the island of Ireland. It examines differing perspectives of stakeholders, comparing and contrasting views according to local context (Northern Ireland (NI), Ireland).

A professional skills survey was designed, drawing on previous research which had identified 53 competences in six sets (Fundamental Technical Skills, Application Skills, Outward Facing – People Orientated Skills, Inward Facing – Ways of Thinking, World View, Character and Ethical Orientation). The survey was completed by 235 academics, students and engineering employers (ranging from SMEs to large multinationals) on the island of Ireland in 2022. Analysis highlighted interesting similarities and differences in stakeholder perspectives between the two jurisdictions. Whilst awareness of SDGs was markedly higher in Ireland compared to NI, average importance ratings for many competences were generally similar in both jurisdictions.

These findings have improved engineering educators’ understanding of the stakeholder perceptions including how those vary by location. Such improved understanding, including regional insights, should help to inform engineering curriculum development at tertiary level and ensure that engineering graduates are equipped with the appropriate skill set to contribute solutions to the big global challenges of our day.
Period13 Sept 2023
Event titleSEFI Conference 2023: Engineering Education for Sustainability: 51st Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI)
Event typeConference
LocationDublin, IrelandShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Engineering Education
  • Professional Skills
  • SDGs
  • Intercultural Skills
  • Gender Equality