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Engineering bodies call for radical change
Published:  19 March, 2010

The UK’s eight leading engineering organisations are calling for political parties to ensure that engineering makes the maximum contribution to solving Britain’s biggest challenges – the economy, the environment, education, infrastructure and public services.

A newly-formed body called Engineering The Future, which represents the eight organisations* and more than 450,000 member engineers, has published a manifesto, Engineering the future of the UK – a vision for the future of UK engineering.

The key theme of the manifesto is that the UK is not taking full advantage of the potential of engineering, and that radical change is needed, with Government playing a central role. The engineering bodies are talking to all of the main political parties in the UK as they prepare their manifestos for the upcoming general election.

The Engineering The Future document (above) highlights what is sees as five key policy priorities for the next Government:
 
Sustaining and encouraging investment in the skills for the future With major skills shortages already clear in technician roles, there is also an urgent need to improve supply of apprenticeships and relevant careers information in schools and colleges.
 
Making the UK a leader in low-carbon technology Government should adopt a more interventionist position in the future price of carbon and research funding for low-carbon technologies.
 
Capitalising on the value of the UK science and engineering research base Despite promising initiatives, transfer of knowledge into the private sector is too limited and R&D incentives in the private sector lag behind other major economies – this should be the focus of future Government policy.
 
Harnessing the power of public spending to encourage innovation With a £220bn annual budget for goods and services, government is the largest customer in the country and best practice procurement would create the opportunity for more innovative solutions and give a better chance to small and medium-sized enterprises (which win only one in six central government contracts).

•  Making greater use of engineering advice in government policymaking Greater recruitment of trained and experienced engineers into the civil service as well as more systematic use of private sector engineering expertise would be valuable reforms.

The call for action follows a joint letter from the Presidents of the professional bodies urging British political parties to grasp the fact that engineering holds the key to creating a new, broader economic base.

Lord Browne of Madingley, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “The economic impact of engineering stretches far beyond the measurable output of factory production lines. From agriculture to IT, and from manufacturing to finance, engineering solutions are deeply embedded in every area of economic activity in the UK.

“Engineers will sit at the heart of efforts to rebuild a balanced economy, based on a greater diversity of industries,” he adds. “Engineering solutions will also help to address the grand challenges facing society in the 21st century, including poverty, improved access to food and water, and combating climate change.”

The Engineering The Future manifesto can be downloaded from www.raeng.org.uk/societygov/public_affairs/thefuture.htm

* The eight organisations are the Engineering Council, EngineeringUK, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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