Robots & schoolchildren help highlight solution to engineering skills shortage in Scotland

Published:  05 February, 2016

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has urged MSPs to promote greater collaboration between industry and education to find a solution for the lack of engineers in Scotland. Supported by a team of school children and their robot, the IET has also highlighted the importance of inspiring school children to become engineers.

MSPs, business leaders and academics attended a reception at the Scottish Parliament, heard from children and teachers at Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce (Parkside Primary School) who demonstrated their robotics entry to the IET First Lego League (FLL) science and technology competition, a global robotics completion to inspire children to study science and engineering-related subjects at school.

Nigel Fine, chief executive of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), told delegates that more than half (59%) of engineering employers in Scotland say a shortage of engineers could jeopardise their business.

The IET also highlighted that two thirds (67%) of Scottish engineering businesses are worried that the education system will struggle to keep up with the skills required in today’s technological world – and that more can be done to engage parents in understanding the benefits of an engineering career.

Fine said: “The engineering sector has a crucial role to play in delivering growth for Scotland, in building Scotland’s capacity to compete in a global market and in shaping Scotland’s ability to cope with pressures on the world’s resources.

“Demand for engineers in Scotland remains high, with supply unable to keep pace – and employers continuing to highlight skills shortages as a major concern. That is why stronger and deeper collaboration between employers and academic institutions is needed to agree practical steps to ensure that young people are suitably prepared both academically and practically before they start work.

“Employers must also recognise the need for workforce diversity and do more to attract recruits from a wider talent pool. This might include looking at other professions, such as medicine and accountancy that have been more successful at attracting a diverse workforce. It also means working with parents and teachers to promote engineering as a creative, rewarding and exciting profession for girls, as well as boys.”

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