Press release

Robots and schoolchildren help highlight the solution to engineering skills shortage in Scotland

19 January 2016

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) will today urge 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 will also highlight the importance of inspiring school children to become engineers.

MSPs, business leaders and academics attending a reception at the Scottish Parliament will hear from children and teachers at Bun-sgoil Taobh na Pàirce (Parkside Primary School) who will demonstrate 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), will tell delegates that more than half (59 per cent) of engineering employers in Scotland say a shortage of engineers could jeopardise their business.

The IET will also highlight that two thirds (67 per cent) 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.

Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive, 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.”

The IET Engineering Trends in Scotland event, taking place today (Tuesday 19 January) at the Scottish Parliament, is being hosted by Dr Elaine Murray MSP. There will also be a keynote address from Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages.

The figures quoted above are from the IET’s Skills & Demand in Industry report.

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 167,000 members in 127 countries (including 10,000 members in Scotland). It is also the most interdisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.