IMechE chair calls on UK to support engineering students

The IMechE said the government must provide more financial support for engineering students in order to prevent a shortage of skilled graduates in the manufacturing, energy and transport sectors.

Stephen Tetlow, the IMechE’s chief executive, said: ‘The government says it wants this Budget to be the most pro-growth for a generation; investment in the manufacturing and engineering sectors has the potential to drive this growth in a sustained and balanced way.

‘Rebalancing the economy means attracting bright young people into engineering and manufacturing at all levels to ensure we have the skills we need for growth.

‘So the work must start with the UK’s schoolchildren and students — otherwise there won’t be enough young, skilled engineers joining the workforce and the government’s intent will be no more than words.’

The IMechE has called on Chancellor George Osborne to invest in engineering skills at all levels of education.

It specifically recommends contributing funds to provide industry-led careers advice in schools and reforming the careers advice system; provide greater funding for apprenticeships in sectors, such as engineering, to ensure an increase in their uptake as part of the planned 100,000 apprenticeships per year by 2014; and provide financial support for engineering students and universities.

IMechE said cuts in university tuition funds mean that many universities are likely to charge the full £9,000 tuition fees for their courses. At the moment they appear likely to levy those fees uniformly across all subjects. 

The IMechE’s recommendations follow the recent government-commissioned Wolf Review of Vocational Education, which called for proposed changes to funding and accountability regimes to ‘remove the perverse incentives which currently encourage schools and colleges to steer young people into easy options, rather than ones which will help them progress’.