The number of ambassadors volunteering their time to inspire young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the Highlands and Islands has topped the 400 mark.
This week eight new industry volunteers will participate in the induction course at HIE's office in Inverness.
The new recruits come from a range of companies and organisations, including Lifescan Scotland, Halcrow, and UHI, which recognise the importance of STEM skills to the region's key growth sectors including life sciences and energy.
The STEM ambassador programme, managed by HIE, puts young people in contact with individuals from a variety of STEM backgrounds and aims to inspire them through their experience and enthusiasm. Since March 2009 the number of ambassadors in the Highlands and Islands has grown from 100 to more than 400, with a target of reaching 501 by the end of March 2011.
Donna Chisholm, Head of Innovation and Skills, said: "Meeting ambassadors at key points during their education can have a profound effect on what young people choose to do with their lives. The future economy of our region depends on STEM skills, so we need to ensure our young people understand the importance of studying science, engineering and technologies at school."
Recent research carried out by Lifescan Scotland has shown the many benefits companies can gain from their involvement in the programme with more than 80 percent of employees stating that taking part in initiatives such as these make them feel proud to work at Lifescan Scotland and 77 percent saying it had increased their morale.
Lorraine Dick, Community Relations Specialist at Lifescan Scotland, said: "It's amazing to see the difference volunteering with the STEM ambassador programme has made to many of our staff. We've seen their self-confidence grow and their presentation skills improve as a result. It's a really rewarding experience for everyone involved."
STEM ambassador, Leanne Mills from Lifescan Scotland said: "I love being able to help transfer the teachings that the young people get in the classroom to real life situations in the workplace. It's a tremendous opportunity to be able to help shape a future generation of young scientists, engineers, mathematician and technologists."
To find out more about being a STEM Ambassador, contact Janice Wallace at HIE by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, visiting www.stemnorthofscotland.com or calling 01463 234171.