The engineering community is calling on the next government to harness the full capacity, capability and potential of the UK’s engineering talent. The professional organisations have identified five key priorities that will enable the UK to meet the challenges that society will face in the future.
The message comes from an alliance of 38 professional organisations in the engineering sector, including the Engineering Council. The priorities were identified after a series of workshops led by the Royal Academy of Engineering to gather views on industrial strategy. These goals cannot be achieved in the life of a single parliamentary term. Therefore, a consistent, long-term, whole-systems approach is needed to maximise the UK’s potential.
The five key priorities include:
- Define and clearly articulate a bold, global and ambitious vision for the UK, which will be critical if the UK is to exploit the opportunities and mitigate the risks associated with exiting the EU.
- Focus the education and skills system on fully unlocking UK talent and potential. Talent and skills are fundamental to the UK’s position as a world leading economy but this is threatened by an engineering skills shortage. We need to ensure that vocational education and training is fully funded and as much a priority as higher education. It is also essential to upskill and fully equip people for rewarding careers in the industries of the future.
- Support innovation. Government should set a target of 3% of GDP combined public and private R&D investment, and work with the private sector to formulate a roadmap to achieve this goal. Better collaboration between business and universities should be supported to reap benefits for the economy.
- The benefits of engineering, in terms of economic growth and social advancement, must be spread across the UK. Opportunities to improve living standards and increase productivity must be available across the UK. We should build on existing successful initiatives and institutions and spread best practice and learning derived from them.
- Prioritise world class supporting infrastructure. Infrastructure, including energy and digital, is critical to the well-being of society and the performance of the economy. A clear, long-term strategy is needed for all infrastructure to provide industry with the confidence to invest for the future. Regional plans that understand local needs will need to be integrated with national strategies. All new infrastructure will need to support economic growth alongside resilience and environmental sustainability. Energy efficiency must be a key driver.
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