The UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, last week suggested that more women should go into engineering to help solve the skills shortage. He highlighted the vital role that women represent in engineering and the need to shift the mindset and reputation the industry has about engineering being a ‘dirty hands’ business suitable only for men.
Author Archives: Michelle Richmond, The IET
Last month CaSE warned the Government that its proposals to introduce a ‘sunset clause’ for the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) could damage the science and engineering sector – and last week the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the Home Office’s independent advisory group on immigration, agreed with our concerns. If the Government follows the new recommendation, it will be a victory for common sense.
A few months ago, Education for Engineering (E4E), the body representing the professional engineering community on education and skills matters, published the first in a series of reports on pupils’ participation and attainment in science and mathematics qualifications at key stage 4 in England.
The first report, entitled ‘Opportunity or Ability?’, examined national and regional GCSE results, as well as differences in participation and attainment in science and mathematics between co-ed and single sex schools in both the state-maintained and independent sectors. Read More
In the next two years, Labour will need to develop the policy detail to underpin its commitment to a fairer capitalism and a rebalanced economy. So how can science policy support this agenda?
Labour is now committed to an active industrial strategy that focuses on high performing sectors. Research and development-intensive sectors, including automotive, life sciences and aerospace are likely to be included. The TUC has long called for a sector led industrial strategy, so we welcome this commitment. Read More
On Monday, Research Councils UK announced that six of the Research Councils were looking to fill vacancies on their governing Councils. It probably isn’t the most engaging of our announcements but it could be classed as one of the most important. Why? Read More
The figures announced this week showing that UK employment has hit an all-time high are obviously welcome. If the UK is to recover its economic standing, and prosper in the future, then creating private sector jobs will be essential. But what kind of jobs should the UK be creating?
It is clear that if we are to rebalance the economy of this country away from the financial sectors, businesses that are built on science, engineering, and particularly physics will have a significant role to play. The Institute of Physics (IOP) has launched a report, in concert with Deloitte, that demonstrates how critical physics is to the continued existence of sectors of the economy that support more than a million jobs in the UK. Read More
The report by the Royal Academy of Engineering published this week looks to put an end to a very long running debate – does the UK produce enough STEM graduates?
Those with long memories will count the number of times analysts have pointed to graduate destination data to show that a proportion of scientists eschew science careers and that engineers don’t always choose engineering employers. This usually provokes a row over what that data means for the economy, for university funding, and for those considering investing in a university education. Read More
It is a pleasure to write for the CaSE blog about the BioIndustry Association’s Citizens’ Innovation Funds (CIFs) proposal. I am confident we all share the ambition of shining a light on UK science and innovation and improving the environment within which research and development, translation and product commercialisation can take place in the UK. Read More
Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD, and is recognized as one of the fastest growing Latin American economies. But Chile has big cracks in two pillars critical for our economic and social progress: Science, and Education.
In our recent letter to Science we emphasized how the Chilean state has been effectively deaf for decades. It has ignored over 10 national and international reports from local and foreign experts and scientists, international organisations and science academies and societies, describing the need for a national plan for research and development under a proper institutional framework and governance for science. Read More
The Olympics are over for another four years and Great Britain basks in the glory of a fantastic month for Team GB, both off and on the field. The final medal table showed – and the Paralympics continue to show – that Britain punches well above its weight when it comes to sporting success.
Team GB finished third behind the superpowers of the US and China: we collected 65 medals in total, 29 of them gold, beating the 47 medals collected by our athletes in the 2008 Beijing games and far surpassing the 48 medal target set by UK Sport, the funding body for the UK’s athletes. Read More
It’s no secret that the UK’s economy is a mess. What’s more of a surprise is that, four years into the crisis, the debate on what to do about the economy is still missing the point. While politicians and economists debate the virtues of Plan A and Plan B, austerity and stimulus, they’re missing something that may be obvious to engineers and scientists: that the real source of sustainable economic growth and societal progress isn’t short-term economic tinkering. It’s innovation. Read More
Rob Doubleday is Executive Director of the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) at the University of Cambridge. The article first appeared in the July 2012 edition of CaSE News.
Ireland’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Cunningham, likes to quote Lord Ritchie-Calder, a science journalist who worked in government during the Second World War. Scientists had played a central role in the war effort, but “having gained access to the corridors of power, scientists could not find their way to the men’s room.”
We’ve come a long way since Ritchie-Calder’s day, however, the question of science’s proper place in government remains. And it has been aired again at the news of Sir Mark Walport’s appointment to be the next Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA). Read More
Attitudes to science are made in primary school; by the age of eleven most children have made up their mind about whether or not they like science. That is why it is so important that young children experience science education of the highest quality while they are in primary school; science teaching and learning that enthuses and motivates them to carry on learning science, and equally importantly which develops the conceptual understanding of scientific ideas and the processes of enquiry that lie at the core of scientific understanding.
The UK’s schools are not producing enough technologists. Evidence from sources such as the CBI, DBIS and NESTA reveals that many sectors of UK business and employment are experiencing severe skills shortages which threaten our international competitiveness. Most of these are related to applications of digital technologies.
The new Centre for Innovation in Technological Education (CITTE) aims to change that. It will support schools in strengthening the way technological education is integrated into the curriculum – to develop students’ technical and employability skills. Its approach will promote more positive perceptions of technology in teachers, parents and children – through stimulating, collaborative activities. Read More
18th June 2012 saw the seventh Science Question Time event, run by CaSE in collaboration with the Biochemical Society and Alice Bell of Imperial College. With ‘Growth’ as the evening’s theme the panel discussed the concept of economic growth, and how science and innovation can help to deliver it.
You listen to the full debate on our SoundCloud page.
There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons. Some 158 have a background in business. Another 90 have worked in professional politics, 86 are lawyers and 38 come from the media. There is, as you may well know, just a single professional scientist – Julian Huppert, the MP for Cambridge. Add in two more science PhDs and a smattering of engineers and medical doctors, and scientific representation in the Commons is decidedly weak. Just one Cabinet minister, Vince Cable, studied the natural sciences at university – and he switched to economics half way through. Read More
January saw CaSE publish a scorecard, in response to a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee inquiry into Chief Scientific Advisers in Government. This scorecard, and the narrative that went with it, assessed the degree of independent scientific advice provided to Government departments. Read More
“BACK in the 1970s, as biochemist at Liverpool University, I was fairly certain that none of my colleagues knew the meaning of innovation. Scientists were ‘supposed’ to study science – not invent, patent, or take products into the marketplace.
As for control of Intellectual Property – well, there was none. Research discoveries were reported on an ad hoc basis to a senior administrator. He and his committee would decide what, if anything, to do with an invention.
The ‘innovation’ process was foreign and, I suspect, somewhat distasteful to the academics in my department – if not throughout academia. For example, I and a colleague invented the ‘Backfriend’ orthopaedic support. We funded the start of a company (Medesign) ourselves without any support from the university. Read More
After the recent budget it’s clear (if it were ever in doubt) that the government is casting its lot with ‘business as usual’, rather than science and engineering, to stimulate an economic recovery. The “biggest sustained reduction in business tax rates for a generation”, announced in Osborne’s address, far overshadows the £160m for new research investment.
But the status of science and business in UK appropriations is hardly a product of just this Government – or even just this decade. To demonstrate, let’s examine the most recent BIS science, engineering and technology statistics – specifically, the bits on how the UK’s research spending has changed over the years, and how that spending stacks up against other G7 countries (and the UK’s main research competitors). Read More
New Immigration Rules took effect on 6 April that will change the way that research centres, universities and other employers recruit workers from outside of Europe. More changes are due on 14 June 2012.
The extensive set of changes touched on every area of policy for Tier 2 migrants, the ‘skilled worker’ category. There has been a lot of change, and staff in HR, the individual employees and their recruiting managers could be forgiven for losing track. Read More