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Education / New scholarship programme aims to support ‘next generation of engineers’

From left to right: UHI Shetland senior engineering lecturer Howie Thomson, ECITB account manager for Scotland Sophie Anderson, UHI Shetland principal Prof. Jane Lewis, ECITB board member and Peterson general manager Daniel Gear.

A NEW scholarship scheme is being launched in Shetland to support people into mechanical and electrical engineering careers.

The ECITB scholarship will provide technical training with an aim to “create a pipeline of talented new entrants” to the sectors.

Created by government skills body ECITB – or the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board – to address workforce shortages in key engineering roles, scholars get a £100-week grant to develop their engineering knowledge and skills and achieve industry standard qualifications.

Eight electrical and eight mechanical maintenance technicians will make up the first cohort of ECITB Scholars starting at UHI Shetland in September.

ECITB board member and Peterson general manager Daniel Gear welcomed the launch of the new scholarship programme and said local employers were already taking an interest.

“The timing of this scholarship programme couldn’t be better for industry as the renewables, marine, oil and gas, and space sectors in Shetland face a booming pipeline of projects over the coming years,” he said.

“As a result there is ever-growing demand for the type of skills that this programme will deliver, which is unsurprisingly piquing the interest of local employers across these key sectors.

“By meeting the cost of the first two years of training through the scholarship programme, there will be a lower financial burden for employers who subsequently take on the technician scholars, which offers the added benefit of pre-skilling new hires into local industry.”

ECITB account manager in Scotland Sophie Anderson said: “This is a very exciting development to support industry locally where a number of important energy projects are either underway or planned in the area.

“Growing skills shortages and the need to find and retain engineers are the most pressing challenges facing the engineering construction industry both in Shetland and across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“We have worked closely with employers in both the oil and gas and renewables sectors to ensure the programme develops the skills which are in demand in Shetland and are key to successful delivery of the energy transition.”

UHI principal Jane Lewis added that the college was “delighted” to support the scholarships.

“Supporting Shetland and local energy and renewable projects with training and skills is of great importance to us, and we look forward to working with ECITB and local businesses delivering these scholarships,” she said.

The launch of the Shetland scholarship programme comes just weeks after the ECITB announced a similar scheme in Aberdeen, aimed at equipping the next generation of engineers for the energy transition.