The need for highly skilled engineers to operate precision machinery was driven home to minister for science, energy and industry John Battle last week, following visits to GEC-Alsthom and Bridgeport machine tools.
Speaking at Bridgeport, Battle said he had not fully realised the need for highly skilled, professional engineers to operate modern precision equipment. He said he would take that message back to his department which is preparing Labour’s first White Paper on competitiveness.
Battle also said the Government was looking at the present tax structure to see if there was any way of helping small and medium sized firms with research and development. ‘We are having a review of budgets to see what we can do,’ he said, although he admitted that money was scarce.
The comments were made following Battle’s visit to GEC-Alsthom which opened its new £20m power generation research centre near Leicester.
The Whittle Centre researches technologies such as high temperature materials, cooled turbine design, and small and large combustion systems using fuels such as natural gas, synthesised coal, biomass and landfill gases.
Charles Soothill, director of engineering operations said the centre, which is part of the 350-strong technology group, employs 40 staff.