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Look beyond pay propaganda, urges EngineeringUK CEO

07 October, 2010

Paul Jackson, chief executive of EngineeringUK, has urged the Government to encourage young people to look beyond propaganda on pay. Speaking at a fringe event at the recent Liberal Democrat conference, where he shared the platform with business secretary Vince Cable, Jackson outlined the crucial role that manufacturing and engineering could play in delivering a rebalanced economy and long-term growth.

“The engineering footprint generates 20% of the UK’s gross domestic product – three times that of the finance sector – and employs 4.5 million people,” he pointed out. “To retain our standing as the world’s sixth-largest manufacturer, we need to attract talent and change misconceptions about engineering.”
Recent research by EngineeringUK shows that pay is the key consideration
when making career choices for people of all ages. For 17–19 year-olds, 77% consider pay a priority.

The career choices that young people make are driven by their perception of where the highest pay can be earned. This perception is often based on the high-profile few, rather than the many, Jackson (above) argued.

“The millions to be made from show business, as suggested by shows like the X Factor, or the bankers’ bonuses we read about, distort our views about pay,” he said. “The reality is that these megabucks will only ever be available to the lucky few, while at all levels of engineering there are rewarding – in every sense of the word – careers to be found. Careers that will contribute to a robust, revitalised economy.”
When the Government seeks advice from highly-paid experts from finance and retail, it is sending out the wrong message to the public about which industries underpin our economy, Jackson argued.

“Next time the Government is looking for advice on how to put the country back on track, they should turn to the engineering community,” he continued. “Put your faith in engineers and in doing that, show today’s young people that their future options go beyond X Factor or banking success. Make sure they have access to real information about their options, rather than leaving it to soundbites that only highlight the exceptional.
“You can make it more likely that Britain will have the skills the country needs in the future,” Jackson concluded. “If you do, manufacturing and engineering will be equipped to deliver.”

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