November 21, 2012
The team at Consulting-Specifying Engineer has been gathering a lot of data about the industry in recent months, so I thought I'd share some of it with you. Most of the news is positive-let's get that key detail out of the way before we dive a little deeper.
There are, however, still a lot of challenges. Here's a quick look at some you've mentioned:
• Building owners' lack of knowledge, budget, etc.
• Codes, standards
• Communication skills, professional skills
• New construction continues to lag, especially institutional buildings and public works
• Not enough engineers, especially young engineers.
Economic conditions are a big hurdle, and this is common to all industries. Data from the Federal Reserve Board and Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation show that several manufacturing sectors are trending upward. For example, HVAC production should trail the rebound in housing and nonresidential construction. A 1% gain is forecast for 2012, followed by a 4% increase in 2013 and a 7% gain in 2014. Production of engines, turbines, and power transmission equipment production is predicted to grow 29% in 2012, 4% in 2013, and 5% in 2014.
And a very broad indicator also points to growth: Inflation-adjusted nonresidential spending is predicted to increase 12% in 2012, 4% in 2013, and 12% in 2014. This magazine's audience agrees. According to a poll conducted in February at www.csemag.com, 75% of you indicated that your outlook on the economy over the next 6 months is either much better (53%) or better (22%).
Though we cannot directly control the world's economy, we can affect many of the other points noted above. For a snapshot of where the engineering field is headed (and where young engineering graduates are coming from), read the National Science Foundation's "Science and Engineering Indicators 2012." One interesting fact from this report: The engineering labor market is changing. For example, between 1993 and 2008, increasing percentages of scientists and engineers in their 60s reported that they were still in the labor force. Whereas 59% of science and engineering degree holders between the ages of 60 and 64 were employed in 1993, the comparable percentage rose to 66% in 2006 before declining slightly in 2008.
Consulting-Specifying Engineer is continuing to review reports like the ones above, and collect data from the engineers directly connected to our industry-you. Watch for specialized surveys and research requests in your e-mail in-box, and be sure to share your knowledge. We'll keep you and your firm apprised of the best research possible so that you can make informed decisions.
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