Ireland has the second-highest proportion of scientists and engineers in the EU, according to new figures from Eurostat.
The 2008 edition of Eurostat’s Science, Technology and Innovation in Europe revealed 4.8pc of the EU’s labour force comprises scientists or engineers. The highest shares of scientists and engineers were found in Belgium (7.9pc), Ireland (6.8pc), Finland (6.7pc), Sweden (6.5pc) and Denmark (6.0pc), with the lowest shares in Portugal (2.7pc), Bulgaria, Austria and Slovakia (all 3pc).
Despite these findings, experts believe Ireland faces a deficit in engineering, science and technology talent in the years ahead as the number of school leavers opting for careers in these sectors has waned.
The Eurostat report found the EU spend on R&D has remained consistent: in 2006 it amounted to 1.84pc of GDP, the same as the figures for 2005, down slightly on the 2000 figure of 1.86pc. In 2000, Ireland’s spend on R&D was below the average at 1.12pc of GDP. This rose to 1.26pc in 2005 and 1.32pc in 2006.
Sweden spent the most proportionally on R&D in 2006 (3.82pc of GDP), followed by Finland (3.45pc), Germany (2.51pc), Austria (2.45pc) and Denmark (2.43pc). Cyprus (0.42pc), Romania (0.46pc), Bulgaria (0.48pc) and Slovakia (0.49pc) accounted for the lowest R&D spend.
Germany, France and the UK accounted for around 60pc of total R&D expenditure in the EU.
By Niall Byrne