I NOTE with interest your exclusive article highlighting a pending shortage of civil engineers putting the Government's Infrastructure Investment Plan at risk ("Engineer shortage threatens infrastructure projects", The Herald, December 1 ).
For decades civil engineers have been under-valued and under-paid compared to most other professionals. Hourly charge-out rates for lawyers and accountants for specialist work were typically in the range of £150 to £250 per hour, with civil engineers in the band between £50 and £100. A school leaver looking beyond job satisfaction and with no particular inclination for a career would not consider civil engineering if salary prospects were a major driver. Now with the inherent application of one of the basic laws of economics, namely supply and demand, this shortfall may be redressed for the benefit of future generations of civil engineers, and the profession generally.
Apart from the early civil engineers, many of whom notably were Scots, such as Telford, McAdam, McAlpine, Rennie, Stevenson, and Arrol, society has not valued or rated civil engineers. Part of their charter states "the profession of a civil engineer being the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man". Civil engineers have a very challenging job overcoming the forces of nature which these days come in many increasing and ever-changing forms such as flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes and climate-change to mention but a few. In many European countries the respect for, and the status given to, civil engineers is considerably greater, such as in Germany where Dr Ing or Dip Ing is a term of salutation. Note how well their economy is progressing.
There are many spectacular and noteworthy examples of civil engineering throughout the world, and also here in Scotland including the Forth bridges, the Loch Katrine water supply system, the Central Scotland motorway network system, the Scottish Hydro arena, and many more.
Additionally much of the work of civil engineers may be unglamorous but it is essential for the safe and efficient functioning of countries and communities – where would we be without traffic management, water supply, sewerage treatment, power generation, tunnelling, building maintenance and more ?
This new infrastructure programme is essential for the development of our nation. Given more recognition and encouragement I am sure the new members of the profession of civil engineering will assist.
Hopefully it will compete for the brightest and the best graduates and therefore help in the delivery of this ambitious programme of work.
46 Buchanan Street,
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