Carol Monaghan MP tells photonics sector to make its voice heard, pay new starters more, and embrace a more diverse employment pool.

For decades, the photonics industry has been at the forefront of global innovation and research. Developments such as advanced LIDAR systems for autonomous vehicles, secure quantum computers and 5G communications, ensure that this sector remains as relevant as ever with the potential for major growth across multiple technologies.

However increased threats to national security mean that the importance of this industry goes beyond basic economics. Set against a backdrop of a challenging funding landscape, can governments really afford not to invest in photonics and quantum?

At this week’s Photonex and Vacuum Technologies conference, plenary presenter Carol Monaghan, MP, who represents Glasgow North West, argued for greater funding for research, higher salaries for new entrants to the industry, and for greater diversity in recruitment.

She told the gathering at the SEC, Glasgow, where the Photonex conference is taking place, “I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the people here who are involved in the education and training of the next generation of engineers and technicians. Your efforts in this area and arguably just as important as the research and developments that you are involved in.

Across Scotland, the photonics sector provides employment for around 3000 people. Companies such as Thales, Leonardo, Coherent, M Squared, and CST Global are of key importance to the Scottish economy. Laser sales alone are in excess of £200 million per annum with phot in Scot contribute over £1 billion annually to the Scot economy and crucially over 90 per cent of those sales are exports.”