Engineers must improve their digital and communication skills to avoid becoming subservient to machines, according to ICE vice president Ed McCann.
Speaking at the NCE100 Future Engineer Breakfast Club in London, McCann warned that recent innovations in digital technology put swathes of traditional engineering roles at risk, particularly those who work with complex calculations.
“Things which are easily described as a series of sequential actions, they are being automated and wiped out,” he said.
“If you can write it down as a series of steps then the machines will do it…an awful lot of what our people do is going to go.”
Later McCann argued that an industry shift towards much larger companies puts more pressure on engineers to become better communicators.
“Skills in the future, if we continue with the trend of gigantification of organisations, are going to be much, much more about complex organisations than they are to solve equations and produce drawings and deal with site operatives,” he said.
McCann is leading a six-month review into what skills the industry needs and how the shortage is being tackled. Findings from the research will be presented to the ICE in April as recommendations on how to address skills needs in the future.