Eight thousand jobs could be lost every year for a decade if Ireland does not invest in physical research and development.
According to that Institute of Physicshis research shows that the sector is experiencing a critical skills shortage and if we don’t invest in research and development in this area, 80,000 high-level jobs could be lost to the economy over the next decade.
The warning comes in the organization R&D blueprintsupported by the employers’ union Capricornwhich “provides a platform for stakeholders to identify obstacles to a thriving R&D system in Ireland and actions to overcome them”.
IOP Managing Director Tom Grinyer said: “Today we launch our new consultation by warning that a failure to invest in physics research and development could cost Ireland the ability to create over 80,000 jobs.
“Our R&D blueprint, which will gather insights from the broader physics community, will enable us to make key recommendations to governments and policymakers to ensure Ireland does not miss out on key employment opportunities.
“We are at a crucial juncture as our preliminary research shows that companies are already experiencing critical skill shortages that are hampering growth and are now looking abroad to fill these positions. As a driver of innovation, investing in physical R&D means important industries will be embedded in Ireland and the resulting benefits will be seen here.”
The Institute of Physics is the largest professional body and learned society for physics in Ireland and the UK, fostering collaboration in physics around the world and representing 21,000 members with expertise in physics in academia, business and industry.
Science Foundation Ireland head prof Philip Nolan commented: “The IOP’s new consultation is vital for the physics sector and the broader research and innovation community, as gathering views from the community will be key to enabling the IOP to make informed recommendations to government and help us to adapt our strategies to better support physics research and physics-based innovation.
“The IOP’s preliminary research clearly shows that there are important opportunities to exploit if we want to accelerate physics-based innovation, and the importance of government support in enabling innovation. I encourage industry to join the IOP’s consultation so that we can seize these opportunities and ensure a thriving physics R&D system in Ireland.”
The research, entitled paradigm shiftshows that physics-based companies in Ireland are already facing a critical skills shortage:
- 46% of those surveyed named the shortage of skilled workers as a key challenge for conducting R&D/innovation activities.
- Additionally, 95% said they had difficulty recruiting across the board, for both professional and technical skills, as well as manufacturing and commercial positions.
- The result of this skills shortage means that 61% of respondents indicated that R&D/innovation activities had to be suspended or postponed in the last five years.
- To address the critical skills shortage, many companies looked further afield, with a third (33%) of respondents hiring from outside the UK or Ireland.
The paradigm shift, the IOP says, underscores the inherent need for increased public funding to ensure research and development can continue. By way of comparison, 70% of respondents indicated that public funding helped to fill funding gaps without which the activities would not have taken place.
Looking ahead, 65% of respondents said that better access to direct funding for early-stage R&D could fuel more R&D/innovation activity, while 65% also noted that long-term funding programs could fuel more activity over the next five years.
In addition, better access to finance such as loans was highlighted by 65% of respondents as a policy improvement that would allow them to do more research and development.
The R&D Blueprint is now open for input here. Based on this paper, it sets out how Ireland’s R&D system can be strengthened and the policy environment for R&D in Ireland improved to ensure that Ireland realizes the full economic and societal benefits in the years to come.
The blueprint will focus on four main pillars in which it will identify the top priority actions needed in the short, medium and long term: people and skills; infrastructure; scientific discovery; and companies.