A multi-million pound initiative to promote engineering throughout the UK over the next five years should get under way before the end of the month.
The programme – which is designed to redress the worsening shortage of engineering skills in key industries – arose out of last year’s Year of Engineering Success promotion.
The new venture will promote engineering in schools and colleges, and urge small to medium-sized firms to invest in training. A business plan has been submitted to the 15-strong board of Yes patrons, which is expected to approve it by 31 January.
The 36 Yes patrons, including industry giants such as BP, BT and British Aerospace, have each been asked to contribute £10,000 a year towards funding the Yes to Engineering initiative. The Department of Trade and Industry, which put up £500,000 of the £1.5m Yes budget, is also expected to support the follow-up programme. Small firms will be asked for £2,000 per annum.
Michael Hird, the director of communications at Yes, said several sponsors had already made commitments and been invoiced. Also, two companies that had not supported Yes, Ove Arup and Avon Lippiatt Hobbs (Contracting), had now signed up as patrons.
Mary Harris, the director-general of Yes, will assume the same role for the new initiative – at least initially. Her secondment from British Gas expires in March, when she must decide whether to switch jobs.
Not all say Yes
Not all the Yes sponsors will be participating in the new campaign. Some, like defence firm Vickers, were only interested from the outset in the one-year promotion.
However, others were apparently disillusioned with the campaign – and not on account of the widely published allegations of excessive entertaining and large payments to firms associated with the top executives. Campaign staff involved have dismissed such claims.
But at least one of the power companies involved considers Yes failed to deliver on its aims. A source said the company was ‘distinctly sceptical’ about the follow-on programme and ‘99.9% certain not to participate’.