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Policy and funding

IOP sets out six-point policy priorities for Scottish and Welsh parliaments

29 April 2021

All parties must commit to key policies on physics teachers, diversity, research and innovation in the nations’ next parliamentary sessions, says the IOP.

Ahead of the forthcoming elections, the Institute of Physics (IOP) is calling on the Scottish and Welsh parliaments to each focus on six priorities during their next sessions, to help both nations recover from the pandemic, develop the next generation of innovators, create skilled jobs in preparation for a new industrial era and improve the quality of life across the nations.

Some 199,000 people in Scotland work for and a further third of a million supply and rely on physics-related businesses, which generate high productivity and real growth.

Derek Young, policy manager for IOP Scotland, said: “Physics has played a crucial role in the awe-inspiring scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic. X-ray imaging of the virus paved the way to the astonishing vaccination programme. GPS technology underpins the tracing of exposure. And semiconductors have powered the systems which have let many of us work from home, keep in touch with family and deliver essential services remotely.

“Physics will also help us rise to meet the next major challenge of addressing the global climate crisis. Physics understanding and skills will underpin our development of net-zero technologies to revolutionise renewable energy generation, emissions capture, efficient energy storage and clean transport and heating.

“The world of tomorrow not only hasn’t been built yet, it has barely been imagined. The same imagination and skills that sent a rover 300 million miles to the surface of Mars can also help make Scotland a world-leader in robotics, miniaturisation and artificial intelligence.

“Decisions taken by the Scottish parliament over the next five years will shape Scottish society for decades. Prioritising physics will put Scotland in the strongest position to boost economic growth, create skilled jobs and improve the quality of life across the nation.”

Eluned Parrott was the first Welsh Liberal Democrat to be elected to the South Wales Central assembly region in 2011, and served until 2016. 

Now, as head of IOP Wales, Eluned is keen to support policymakers in unlocking the potential of physics to create tomorrow’s problem solvers and innovators and help prepare Wales for a new industrial era of science, technology and engineering.

She said: “As we look to rebuild our economy and society after the pandemic, it is critical that Wales takes advantage of the potential that science and technology can offer.

“Physics-led industries such as green energy, compound semi-conductors and aerospace are already recognised as critical sectors for Wales’s economy. If we want to nurture and expand the opportunities that these businesses and others like them can bring, we will need to invest in the whole scientific ecosystem.

“In practice that means supporting inspirational teaching in our schools, investing in research and development that embeds high-value jobs in Wales, and creating an inclusive learning and work environment that opens opportunity to all.”

The full election priorities documents, ‘The White Heat of Recovery’, showing the six priorities for each nation are in our policy section.