Scotland used to have a reputation for engineering excellence.
Names such as Thomas Telford, Robert Napier and Henry Bell were known internationally for inspiration and creativity.
Now, it seems, we could struggle even to deliver key projects such as railway upgrades and school refurbishments, let alone major national commitments such as the new Queensferry Crossing and the infrastructure needed for the green energy revolution.
The annual Hays Global Skills Index has warned of a talent mismatch in Scotland's employment market. In straightforward terms, this means employers cannot be sure of recruiting the skilled workers they need in areas such as engineering and information technology.
The opportunities for economic recovery offered by major construction schemes will plainly be limited if the skills are not there to deliver on projects. Or, as Hays has warned, the recruits will simply come from other countries. The concerns echo those in a report by accountants PWC last autumn which found that, unless Aberdeen's industries could recruit 120,000 skilled workers over the next 10 years, the city's future as a global hub for the oil and gas industry would be threatened.
The wider UK is similarly afflicted. In fact, only three countries in Europe face bigger talent shortages than the UK plc, according to this latest survey. These are the struggling eurozone countries Spain, Portugal and Ireland. After the economic crash, there appeared to be a recognition that the UK could not go on relying on the finance and service sectors to deliver economic growth. Both the Westminster and the Scottish Governments agree on the need for big infrastructure projects to help drive growth and recovery.
But intention is not enough without the necessary skills. The intellectual and practical value that comes from the simple building and making of things appears to have been largely lost to workforces in Britain, although there is a will to change that. But Chancellor George Osborne's much-touted "march of the makers" appears to have stalled, on both sides of the border. Why is this? Scotland has a proud engineering heritage, but too few young Scots, plainly, are learning the skills necessary to address this talent shortfall.
Is it that engineering and related disciplines are unfashionable and unattractive to undergraduates and trainees? Our universities and colleges have courses at all levels. The places to train a new generation in subjects such as geosciences and structural integrity, mechanical and electrical design are there.
The suspicion is that not enough Scots take them up. While the learning of such skills might have an image problem, there are clearly attractive financial rewards on offer.
What is needed is a concerted push, beginning in our schools, to persuade young people to take up the challenge. This applies whether we want to be a nation of world-class engineers once again, or simply to have our bridges, railways and wind farms built.
We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis. If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules, which are available here.
Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.