Turkish engineers in demand for global projects: Experts

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published

The high quality of Turkish engineers has put them in demand for international projects, who have the capacity to fill the global shortage of engineers, experts told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

"Turkish engineers are well-prepared, very committed and hardworking," commented Alper Taşdemir, engineering group manager at the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project in Ankara.

"What distinguishes them is the care they put into achieving objectives and assuring quality, and that puts them much in demand for international teams," Taşdemir said.

A study released by the London-based University of Auston on June 15 showed that there is a continuing shortage of engineers across the globe. Experts agree that Turkish engineers are well placed to help fill that gap.

"Turkish engineers now work in all the major markets, thanks to the fact that the quality of engineering schools in Turkey has improved markedly in the past decade," according to H. Levent Akın, professor of computer engineering at Boğaziçi University.

"Both state and private sector are funding R&D [Research and Development] activities in an increasing manner which increases the relatively high tech engineering jobs in Turkey. This contributes positively to the quality of engineers, and prepares them for work on international teams," Cem Ersoy, a professor of Engineering at Boğaziçi University, said.

"We have very high quality engineers graduating from relatively more established universities," Akin explained. "Preparation is at the level of highest international standards," he added.

There are no statistics on the total number of engineers in Turkey, because there are separate professional organizations for engineers based on type. But numbers are considerable: There are, for example, about 100,000 civil engineers, according to the Ankara-based Turkish Chamber of Civil Engineers.

"Education for engineers can vary according to the school they attend, but evaluation according to the Association for Evaluation and Accreditation of Engineering Programs in Istanbul assures that they are taught best practice," Akin said.

Engineers should also be trained in law, ethics and environmental safety, Taşdemir pointed out, and Turkish schools are beginning to take this into account.

"In most programs, as a result of the feedback from the graduates and industrial advisory boards, there is today a strong emphasis on law and ethics in the curricula," Akin said.

For all engineers, around the world, much training takes place on the job. According to Taşdemir, TANAP trains a number of Turkish engineers as they work side-by-side with an international team comprising engineers from many countries. "What we find is that Turkish engineers are eager to learn, and then to take ownership of project design. This is a key characteristic, and explains why there is demand for Turkish engineers for international teams," he said.

Opportunities on the rise

Opportunities for Turkish engineers to receive on-the-job training are increasing, according to Ersoy.

"The state and the private sector are funding an ever-larger number of research and development activities," Ersoy said. "This increases the amount of high-tech engineering jobs in Turkey, and contributes positively to the quality of engineers."

Some experts say, however, that it is difficult for startup engineering firms in Turkey to win enough new projects.

"Competition for new projects in Turkey is very tough," Güven Sak, managing director of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), said. "Tenders are most often won by established firms, and this leaves little opportunity for young engineers to achieve a track record of projects," Sak said.

But this may change, Ersoy said, as engineering education is being continually upgraded.

"As a part of the continuous improvement process, almost all engineering programs have been revised according to recent scientific and technological developments. In addition to ?classical' engineering programs, new engineering programs have been established. The graduates of these programs are addressing the requirements of fields that did not previously exist," Ersoy said.

The outlook, the experts agree, is that the number of qualified and experienced engineers from Turkey will be called in increasing numbers to work on international teams.

"We are achieving a kind of critical mass in terms of training and experience, and, as there is a shortage of engineers around the globe, more and more Turks are likely to fill the gap," Taşdemir said.

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