GE2019: leading engineers’ body highlights importance of engineering to a prosperous economy

With the General Election campaign in full swing, Europe’s largest engineers’ body is calling for the political parties to recognise and harness the importance of engineering and technology.

Political parties must address the shortage of engineering and technical staff at all levels by investing in education and skills as well as increasing the spending of UK Government on research and development to meet the longer-term goals of 3% of GDP invested.

Ahead of the election on Thursday 12 December, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), is highlighting its main policy asks of the next Government.

Skills

The UK has a long-standing skills gap and a chronic failure to encourage enough young people to become engineers and skilled technicians.

The next Government must: Promote engineering and technology in schools and improve access to impartial careers advice and guidance and promote skills to meet the challenge of new technology driving new industries.

Digital

Digital connectivity is an essential prerequisite for an advanced digital economy and ensuring UK competitiveness since the fast, resilient and secure transfer of data is required for many data-driven systems.

The next Government must: Drive the establishment of world-class digital connectivity and infrastructure that is fast, secure and resilient across both urban and rural areas of the UK, through investments such as the National Productivity Investment Fund.

Transport

The transport sector in the UK accounts for large amounts of CO2 emissions, but also other pollutants which cause extensive air quality issues, particularly in large towns and cities.

The next Government must: Encourage further investment in transport technology to improve the efficiency of moving people, goods and services.

Housing and energy

If we are to meet the 2050 targets in the Climate Change Act, then all housing in the UK must have zero carbon emissions.

The next Government must: Set up a nationwide deep retrofit programme to upgrade the existing housing stock alongside a commitment to planning for the deployment of hydrogen to homes and businesses.

Innovation

Innovation is a pillar of the UK’s economy, but we face stiff international competition in the global market. Long-term commitment to innovation is for investment and to help create new markets, supply chains and jobs.

The next Government must: Increase Innovate UK’s budget to help address the UK’s under-investment in innovation and the ‘D’ of R&D.

Simon Edwards, IET Director of Governance and External Engagement, said: “Never before has engineering and technology been so vital for the future of the UK economy and our role as a global innovator.

“Securing our future requires investment in training and developing the skills of the next generation of engineers. The UK has an impressive track record of early-stage research and we call for more money to be put into developing new products and solutions that will improve our productivity. First for investment should be technologies that will unlock our ability to deliver the UK’s ambitious climate change goals.

“We’re calling on the next Government to strengthen the position of the UK as a leader in technology and innovation, and create a unique and sustainable competitive advantage in global markets.”

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