Engineers outline policy priorities for next government

Engineers are calling on the next government to commit to a long-term industrial strategy with engineering, innovation, research and manufacturing at its core.

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These policy priorities have been set out in Engineering a resilient and prosperous future: policy priorities for the next UK parliament, from the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC), which is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

In its report, NEPC is calling for the next government to take a holistic, long-term approach to tackling complex challenges like climate change and slow growth, creating strong policies on which the UK can build sustainable economic growth. 

In a statement, Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE FREng FRS FMedSci, said: “Policymakers need the support of experts when dealing with the complex issues that we face today such as addressing climate change and regulating AI. As we move into the next parliament, it is more important than ever that engineers and policymakers can share ideas and solutions.” 

Engineering experts from 42 professional engineering organisations –representing over 700,000 UK– have united to assess the UK’s needs, which engineering can help to address, and how these are interconnected with the wider economy.

According to NEPC, reversing persistently low economic growth is essential and will involve fostering innovation, supporting small businesses, and investing in strategic sectors.

The NEPC document also outlines how engineers work to tackle complex challenges and how they can work with policymakers to best meet the UK’s needs. 

To fully leverage the UK’s engineering and technology talents, the country must become a more attractive business destination. NEPC’s policy priorities form a package that can help grow the economy, protect the environment, and invest in the workforce and infrastructure of the future.   

The NEPC also calls on the new government to create a framework for sustainable economic growth by taking a systems approach to policy.

This will involve intensifying the commitment to net zero and accelerating the development and adoption of green technologies; delivering a National Engineering and Technology Workforce Strategy; and futureproofing UK infrastructure to deliver sustainable, resilient and healthy spaces. 

The start of a new parliament presents the opportunity to take a bold, long-term, and holistic approach to tackling these complex challenges, the NEPC document states. It also presents an opportunity to shape the role the UK plays in the responsible development of emerging and rapidly evolving technologies, using engineering approaches to ensure that they are designed rigorously and sustainably, and adopted where they have the maximum benefit. 

Professor Sir Jim McDonald GBE FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “[Engineers] leverage advances in research to develop and deliver new products, services and enterprises that generate jobs and value to society. More than eight million people work in the UK’s engineering economy and the profession generates up to an estimated £645bn gross value added to the economy annually.

“For the UK to leverage that impressive engineering and technological strength, the new government needs to pursue a clear industrial strategy, underpinned by large-scale targeted support to key sectors, as many of our competitor nations have succeeded in doing. The choice is clear: we must create an environment that supports companies here, or they will go elsewhere.”

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