Back in March at the Tomorrow’s World Live exhibition, the flagship national event of the Year of Engineering Success, enthusiasm of young people for science, engineering and technology was almost palpable. It seemed to bode well for the year ahead.
As we enter the last quarter of 1997, much of this optimism has dissipated. The impact of Yes has been muted. It has not raised the profile of technology as had been hoped – at least on a national level.
To some extent this was because it has concentrated on local events. Its organisers want the campaign to run for a further five years. The problem, they say, is that Yes simply has not had enough money.
They would like the Government to triple its contribution to £1.5m to match that put in by industry – a not unreasonable request, since the Government routinely insists on industry matching public funding in public/private research projects and the like.
The Government would no doubt want to review how effectively Yes spent its money this year. The fact that YearCo, the company which runs Yes is considering slimming down its central organisation, suggests that it accepts there is room for efficiency improvements.
But the emergence this week of another clutch of stories of companies having difficulty in finding adequately qualified engineers suggests there is a clear need for the campaign, or something like it, to continue.