I’m going to come clean, I’m not from a scientific background and my doctorate isn’t in an ‘ology.’ I trained as an architect and my PhD is in Planning, but I do retain links to academia and research and I have a real appreciation of the importance of the science and engineering sector to the UK economy. The reputation of the UK overseas for innovation and design is key to our future, a race to the bottom with a low-skill, low-wage economy competing on the crowded world stage is simply not an option and to avoid this, fostering our science and engineering talent is essential.
Author Archives: Darren Price, Labour PPC
I applaud the work that Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) is doing to promote science and engineering in the UK.
As someone who has spent the last 4 years in the tech sector, working for Google I know how pivotal science and engineering is for the economy overall, for jobs and for enhancing our daily lives. The UK has a well deserved global reputation for innovation in the technology field, but we sometimes lose out in terms of exploiting and monetizing our innovation.
The importance of science and engineering to the economy of Ellesmere Port & Neston where I was brought up and hope to represent is perhaps more obvious than in many areas. Big chemistry, high end engineering, energy and a world class veterinary school are just a few of those clear reminders, but of course I also recognise that the whole nation relies on its scientists and engineers as key drivers of our economy.
Science and Engineering underpin just about every aspect of our lives. This can be obvious in the car you drive or the computer you use. In other areas we sometimes forget the role that science and engineering have played, such as the light in the street, the internet and phone systems, or the food we eat. There is hardly any part of our lives where science and engineering are not vital – yet this tends to be forgotten when it comes to funding and support for these vital disciplines.
It seems to me that engineers see the world differently.
As a child my father (an engineer) showed me the world in a different way to my mother (a scientist). With my father exponentials were explained while damming streams on the beach, and expansion bends in pipelines were highlighted on train journeys. With my mother we identified wild flowers and learned how the colour of red cabbage water changes with pH.
Science is at the very heart of Scotland’s economy, and it is at the heart of our education system. I want to see a Scotland that continues to embrace science and where our young people see their future in science and engineering, in research and in turning that research into economic benefit
It seems slightly odd to write about how important science and engineering are to the UK. After all, we live in a technological age that’s only possible because of them, and digital technology is starting a revolution that will stand alongside the Industrial and Agricultural in its impact on human society. Read More
I have had many voters approach me expressing concern about the environmental risk that fracking presents to this country. When responding to a number of them I have said that one of the considerations that gives me great confidence that fracking can be undertaken safely in this country is that I believe that the quality of engineering in the UK is second to none. Science and engineering is an area where Britain truly remains a world leader, with international businesses headquartered or operating from here exporting specialist services and high quality manufactured products to all corners of the globe.
My family has lived and worked in the Filton area near Bristol for generations. We have strong links to our local aerospace industry, (this really is not unusual in this neck of the woods!). Some connections are more obvious than others. For example, whilst my Uncle was the Senior Inspector who signed off our iconic Concorde as fit to fly, my Grandmother helped to clean the offices! Whatever the jobs were, our local hi-tech manufacturing industries have provided a good income to many local families for over 100 years.
In the rapidly changing world in which we live, the UK needs to stay focused on the importance of the Science and Engineering sectors to this country’s economy.
As an Engineer, myself, I have had the pleasure of working within various industries, and in varied roles, from maintenance to project management, machine installation and commissioning and software commissioning. I understand the opportunities a role within a technical sector can provide and we must change our view point of technician level roles somehow being of lesser value than graduate level roles.
As a teacher, it always gives me great pleasure to see one of my former students going on to achieve great things and to see that all their hard work studying has paid off. The next few years are going to be crucial ones for Britain as voters make their choice in the most important election for a generation and our economic future depends so much on industries such as science and engineering.
Science is important to the UK, incredibly important. Now as a PhD researcher at the University of Manchester I would say that, I am employed as a result of the science funding that the UK government provides, but I can assure you that I’d be singing this message just as loud if I had followed a different career path.
In 2012, MPs elected for the current parliamentary term were asked a simple question about the probability of flipping a coin and getting two heads in a row. The correct answer, as I’m sure you know, is 25%.
Not everybody needs to be a maths whiz, and not everybody has an interest in statistics and probabilities. But when it comes to the women and men elected to run the country, who make decisions on billion pound budgets and hold government to account, it is surely reasonable to expect they have a basic grasp of the numbers. Read More
As the prospective Labour candidate for Argyll & Bute, I value the important role of science and technology within our area, as well as the country as a whole. I’m an economist, and I work with a wide range of organisations – many of them scientific – supporting their efforts to improve what they do. So I understand the merits of STEM-related jobs and companies, and I appreciate the challenges scientific businesses face in communicating with wider society.
There can be no doubt that full the exploitation of science and technology are an essential part of the future any nation which wants to sustain its position in the world. However, support for science and technology has to compete against a changing appreciation of its worth where the industrial base has declined in relation to the service economy, and where new innovations can be readily obtained from the increasingly capable emerging nations of the world.
I recently met a science student at a party. We were discussing science education, and she mused that all MPs, when first elected, should be given training on the scientific method and what “evidence base” means. Because evidence appears to be very low on the agenda when creating legislation. And often, when research and statistics are cited, politicians get it wrong – either deliberately for political point scoring or out of genuine ignorance.
How attempts to promote Science and Engineering as subjects, and as careers, are undermined by our prevailing attitude to ‘vocational’ learning
Education policy is full of contradictions, mixed messages and unintended outcomes. For almost 40 years – since James Callaghan’s acclaimed Ruskin College speech calling for a great debate on what we want from our education system – every Secretary of State has spoken at length on the importance of vocational education, about bridging the academic-vocational divide, about the importance of the STEM subjects, and about the need to provide the right kind of labour supply to our engineering and manufacturing sector.
A key role of our public science research budget – famously “ring-fenced” by the Coalition government – is to support the ‘commercialisation’ of research in order to add value to the UK economy. This is at a time when the funding basis for teaching in our universities has shifted fundamentally.
I am proud to be one of the early members of Save British Science, now CaSE, as anyone with any understanding of our economy will recognise the importance of science and engineering to the future of our nation. It is therefore important that new MPs get the right support. We often hear about the failure of Parliament to properly address scientific issues, usually by people who have little grasp of how policy is made. However, in reality there are a significant number of colleagues who have at some stage in their careers, worked in a STEM discipline.
Our national security and our future competitiveness and prosperity all depend on bringing more people into engineering at all levels.
That’s because so much of the work to support our armed forces and our security services must be done by UK nationals. Without enough British engineers we just aren’t safe.