ENGINEERING EDUCATION AS ELEMENT OF INNOVATIVE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: CASE OF LATVIA
1 Liepaja University (LATVIA)
2 Latvia University of Agriculture (LATVIA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Engineering plays a key role in supporting the growth and development of a country’s economy as well as in improving the quality of life for citizens. There is an important link between a country’s engineering capacity and its economic development. Engineers help countries by developing infrastructure that provides basic services such as transport, communication, energy, water supply and construction. Linked to these goals, engineering should also have a positive impact on factors such as life expectancy that over time can be expected to aid economic development through improvements to productivity. However, the extent to which engineers can aid development is also dependent upon governments committing finance and resources to infrastructure projects, as well as creating an attractive environment and mechanisms for business development. Ensuring continuity of generations and sustainable reproduction of qualified and competent engineers is one of the most important strategic priorities for those countries that are either already actively participating in the global innovation race or have come close to recognized leaders in this field. The United States, the European Union, China, and India are developing large-scale training programs for the next generation of engineers. Graduates of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs in the United States accounted for about 25%, in Japan and China they are 31% of the graduates-bachelors, in european countries 36%. For comparison, in 2017 in Latvia graduates of engineering programs accounted for 12.5% of the total number of graduates, this is approximately 1,823 people. Moreover, after graduation, according to the survey, less than half of these graduates will work in their specialty. This trend raises concerns about the country's sustainable development in general and the innovative development of the economy in particular. The Guidelines for the Development of Education for 2014-2020 stipulate that the proportion of budget places in the engineering programs will be 55% of the total number of budget places in 2020. Graduates (ISCED 5 and 6) will account for 27% of the total number of graduates. Therefore, the aim of this research is to identify the main problems and prospects, criteria, principles and approaches to modernizing engineering education in Latvia.
Keywords: Engineering education, innovation, global knowledge economy, vocational education.