The UK government’s response to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee’s report Engineering: Turning Ideas into Reality is a sure step towards putting engineering at the top of the political agenda. However, given the current economic climate and recognition of the need for a more varied economy grounded in engineering and manufacturing, there are three aspects of the government’s response that must be given immediate priority.
The first is the creation of an accurate and coordinated engineering skills map detailing where there are skills overloads, and where there are skills gaps and deficiencies; a document that the professional engineering institutions are already working on.
The second is the swift implementation of government plans to consult qualified engineering experts, both inside and outside the civil service wherever necessary.
The third is to continue getting behind practical activities to excite and inspire young people about engineering careers. In addition, the engineering community would like to see these encouraging signs of the greater recognition of the importance of engineering advice in policy-making reflected in the title of the new Science and Technology Committee.
The need to address engineering skills is crucial as demonstrated by the fact that although 66 per cent of the general public would recommend a career in engineering, the consensus among young people is rather different with 70 per cent of 7-11 year olds and 64 per cent of 11-16 year olds stating they would not like to be an engineer when older.
The engineering community is working together to address these crucial issues, and welcomes the government response as an excellent start from which to build.
Paul Jackson, Engineering and Technology Board
Nigel Fine, Institution of Engineering and Technology
Stephen Tetlow, Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Tom Foulkes, Institution of Civil Engineers
Philip Greenish, Royal Academy of Engineering
15 other organisations