Two of the UK’s foremost engineering bodies are urging the next government to put skills, innovation and infrastructure at the heart of a bold new industrial strategy.
In manifestos published ahead of the June 8, 2017 election, the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) and Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) call on all parties to maximise the potential of the UK’s engineering talent. Both note that the goals set out in their respective documents cannot be achieved over the life of a single parliament, and that long-term strategic thinking is required.
The RAEng calls on the incoming government to set a combined public and private R&D target of three per cent, with a ‘willingness to accept the risk of failure, or perceptions of it, in its support for innovation’. Its manifesto notes that education and skills – and increasingly digital skills – are key to future growth, along with vocational training and upskilling. The Academy also calls for the benefits of engineering to spread across the UK, with regional infrastructure and institutions (Catapults, universities etc) receiving the support they require.
RAEng manifesto key points
- Define and clearly articulate a bold, global and ambitious vision for the UK
- Focus the education and skills system on fully unlocking UK talent and potential
- Support innovation
- The benefits of engineering, in terms of economic growth and social advancement must be spread across the UK
- Prioritise world class supporting infrastructure
Infrastructure is also at the core of the ICE’s vision for Britain’s future prosperity. It notes that investment in infrastructure construction has a multiplier effect of around 3X, with both jobs and economic activity receiving a boost. Like the RAEng, the ICE acknowledges the importance of skills to the UK economy, and it calls on the incoming government to avoid a self-inflicted skills crisis by guaranteeing the status of EU nationals working in the UK. The Institution also states that a key aim of Brexit negotiations should be to maintain the UK’s status as a good place to invest in infrastructure.
“Effective, efficient and innovative infrastructure is at the heart of a thriving, successful and modern economy,” said ICE director general Nick Baveystock. “The transport, energy and housing that we all depend on would simply not function without it.”
“When infrastructure projects flourish, the entire economy benefits. We know that £1 of infrastructure construction raises economic activity by £2.84. The sector also helps boost employment. Every 1,000 direct jobs created by the delivery of new infrastructure boosts wider employment by over 3,000 jobs.”
ICE manifesto key points
- The UK should avoid a self-inflicted skills crisis
- Infrastructure placed at the heart of economic policy
- Productivity and regional growth driven through the nation’s infrastructure
- Brexit negotiations to consolidate the UK’s status as an attractive location for infrastructure investment
- The UK is allowed to become a global leader in infrastructure innovation and technology