Exactly one month before the government is due to deliver the Budget, including its spending review for the next three years, 42 engineering organisations representing more than 450,000 UK engineers have outlined six urgent actions vital to ensuring we have the right skills and investments in place to both grow and decarbonise the economy.
'Six engineering ambitions for the UK Spending Review' is the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC)’s submission to the 2021 spending review. It recommends six areas for investment that the engineering profession believes the government should prioritise if it is to meet the goals it has set itself and the country.
Actions for government recommended by the paper include:
- Follow through on the commitment to invest £22 billion in R&D by 2024/25. This increase needs to start ramping up now to ensure it delivers the best returns for the economy and society.
- Accelerate decision-making and investment in low-regrets actions that are needed now for decarbonisation, including low-carbon retrofit and refurbishment of existing building stock, prioritising low-carbon heat, and scaling up the electric vehicle charging network.
- Establish a net zero delivery body to drive and coordinate progress across government and industry, provide systems-level analysis, share learnings about what works, and build a clear, evidence-based vision for a net zero UK.
- Urgently invest in an ambitious net zero skills plan that will enable rapid and affordable re-skilling and up-skilling opportunities for the existing workforce to meet the short-term skills needs for transition to net zero, as well as longer term skills needs.
- Invest in a long-term STEM education strategy, including boosting careers activities and teacher recruitment and accelerating the expansion of inclusive and high-quality technical education and engineering apprenticeships.
- Embed long-term demand drivers into decision making on infrastructure investment to build back better with low carbon, resource efficient and resilient infrastructure.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said, “The 2021 Spending Review is one of the most important in a generation, coming at a time when the UK has to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic in a more regionally equal and environmentally friendly way.
“The scale and pace of change required of government with regard to policy and investment is unprecedented. The UK’s path to net zero and its ability to decarbonise at sufficient speed and scale is contingent upon urgent decisions made by the government now, as well as on the development of a far-reaching and comprehensive transition plan.
“Engineers and the professional engineering institutions to which we belong are ready and willing to support delivery of these priorities and the time to act is now.”