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Limerick company launches scholarship to fight skills shortage

Emutex has launched a scholarship and internship for third level undergraduate students, after having to go abroad to hire seven out of 10 people in 2012.

AN IRISH ENGINEERING company has said that a skills shortage at home means it has to hire abroad.

Now Emutex, which is based in Limerick, has launched a scholarship programme to encourage more young people to study engineering and science subjects.

John Twomey, managing director of the Raheen-based company, said that during 2012 it had to look overseas to fill seven out of 10 job vacancies as there weren’t enough suitably qualified professionals in Ireland. “The skill level required is just not available here at present,” he said.

Celtic Tiger

“I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years,” said Twomey.

This trend has been building up since the Celtic Tiger years. There was a trend in the mid-noughties of less students taking on engineering and science subjects. We are feeling the affects of it now. Everyone got caught up in the building boom and the outflow of students from engineering and science courses declined significantly.

Emutex was founded nearly five years ago and currently employs 27 people. There is a diverse mix of staff, with half from Ireland and half from a range of other countries, in particular Spain. When hiring software engineers, Emutex found there simply weren’t enough fully qualified people in Ireland for the jobs.

“The growth of the business is at risk without the people,” said Twomey.

Scholarship programme

Because there has been a slight increase in the number of students entering third level, Emutex is now launching a scholarship programme aimed at students. “We want to encourage them. We know fees are going up in price, and we want to say look, for those of you who are really ambitious and enthusiastic, we have a simple, innovative engineering project for you,” he said.

The Emutex Software Innovator of the Year Scholarship scheme invites students to create an application using the popular Raspberry Pi embedded device.

This miniature computer can be used to create anything from a robot to a home automation system. All applicants will first submit their ideas on the Emutex website at www.emutex.com. From this, 10 finalists will be chosen, who will be given the device and any equipment they require to build a working prototype of their idea.

All of these ideas will be showcased on the Emutex website and explained in simple terms so that they can be easily understood by all ages. The student with the best project will win the Emutex Software Innovator Of The Year Scholarship for 2012/2013.

The winning undergraduate student’s third level fees will be paid by Emutex for one year, and they will also be offered a paid internship within the company.

Twomey sees the industry as having a big role in encouraging young people to become more adept at engineering and science.

We are going one step further,” he said. “We want to show them that we care. We are only a small company but we want to do our bit. We are [telling] other companies you need to do it too.

He described it as an “embarrassment” that there are hundreds of thousands of people unemployed in Ireland and jobs that are unable to be filled here.

The aim is to continue the scholarship every year, and he hopes other companies will follow suit.

Read: IT security company creates 100 jobs in Dublin>

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