Official statistics hugely underestimate the contribution of engineering to the economy, and they should be modified to reflect reality more accurately, said Dr Alan Rudge, Engineering Council chairman.
The council has lobbied chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown to update the definition.
`National statistics suggest engineering makes up 10-15% of the economy. In fact, it’s at least 40%. It goes beyond companies with engineering in their title, to IT companies, for example.’
Based on the Engineering and Engineering (Vehicles) category used in the FT-SE index, the sector accounts for only 5% of GDP. The Office for National Statistics manufacturing industries category gives a figure of 21%.
Rudge said the official measures use outdated definitions of engineering which only include a narrow range of companies. Engineering’s contribution to sectors such as construction, pharmaceuticals, medical and service industries was ignored. Even financial services companies had a considerable engineering content in the information systems they used.
Rudge said Brown had been `receptive to the argument and asked officials to look into it’.