Ashok Kumar, MP for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, has called for the Government to help reverse the downswing in the number of young people entering chemical engineering.
Brandishing a copy of The Engineer’s 29 January issue in the House of Commons, Kumar quoted the front page story on declining applications to engineering degree courses.
‘This week’s headline in The Engineer says UK students reject engineering; they are rejecting it in masses,’ Kumar, himself a chemical engineer, told MPs.
The chemical industry in the UK has an annual turnover of £20bn. But this could be under threat if the ‘steady stream’ of young people entering the profession dries up.
Kumar warned the House, which was debating chemical engineering for the first time, that young people see the profession as culturally unattractive. ‘This stems from environmental concerns that equate the chemical industry with environmental degradation and pollution,’ he said.
Replying to Kumar, education and employment minister George Mudie said industry must take a lead in improving its image.