The Highland Council’s new Leader has called a meeting of major IT companies to help bring more jobs in the growing sector to the region.
Councillor Drew Hendry says he wants the gathering to develop a framework for future work that would see the Council set priorities to assist the industry in bringing fresh investment into the area.
The region already benefits from thousands of IT jobs and Mr Hendry said he is determined to ensure young people in the area acquire the skills to equip them for future employment, and also provide the industry with a suitably trained workforce.
His call comes ahead of him opening the Hi-Sgil technology event at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness on Saturday, 2 June in one of his first duties since being appointed leader of the council’s coalition administration.
Councillor Hendry said: “The IT sector is already a valuable employer in the Highlands and it will continue to be an important provider of jobs in the future. It is vital we offer encourage further investment in the area in order to create new employment, and also develop the skills that will give firms a workforce tailor-made for modern industry. I hope this meeting will provide a platform for the council and industry representatives to work together to provide mutually beneficial goals.”
He said Hi-Sgil, part of the Inverness Monster Science Festival, will highlight the importance of creativity in learning to the future innovation and growth of industry. He said: “This is a very important event and one that will give a valuable insight into the latest technological developments and how they can be harnessed to improve skills and training.”
The event brings together some of the world’s leading IT companies – including Fujitsu, Microsoft, Stormfront and Lego Education - to highlight the uses of technology in the workplace and how innovation in learning is helping businesses grow.
The industry giants will join Highland-based firms, The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, government agencies and the University of the Highlands and islands in outlining to young people and educators the value of technology.
A series of demonstrations is planned to highlight a range of technology applications including Microsoft Kinect, Apple TV and the latest i-pads and Lego robots.
Abby Wilson, an industrial trainee at Fujitsu, who organised the event, said: “Hi-Sgil seeks to bring together everything that the Highlands have to offer to encourage more people to study, work and live in the region. This is an excellent opportunity for young people – and their parents – to experience how technology is used imaginatively in business, and explore a wide variety of potential career paths.”
Fujitsu, the world’s fourth biggest IT firm, already employs 150 staff in the Highlands and sees the area as key to its strategy to grow its presence in Scotland.
In November Fujitsu announced it had created the world’s fastest computer under an initiative led by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to solve energy, sustainability, healthcare, climate change, industrial and space challenges.
The K computer, created jointly with the RIKEN research institute in Japan, boasts speeds of more than four times that of its nearest competitor.
Earlier this year, Highland pupils got a chance to suggest uses for the computer as part of a global campaign to encourage worldwide conversations on how its power could best be harnessed.
Using the website MyKindaCrowd.com the discussion was taken into schools, colleges and universities and was outlined at a recent STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) event run by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry at Eden Court Theatre.
A spokesman for Microsoft said: “Microsoft is delighted to be taking part in this event which will demonstrate some of the latest technology innovations in learning. Not only can these tools be fun, the skills learned are transferrable to the workplace and will help train young people in the skills and jobs of the future.”
Stormfront said it will be showcasing the benefits of 'Anytime, Anywhere Learning' with iPads and using appropriate Apps to promote Science and Health.
A spokesman said: “As Apple Solution Experts in Education, Stormfront sincerely believe in the use of technology to stimulate awareness and facilitate learning. Anytime, Anywhere Learning means having no barriers to Education. Whether it is used as a springboard to launch a future career, or as a tool to generate understanding in the very young, to the very old.”