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.
Tag Archives: Engineering
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
From large scale power and water infrastructure to the nanotechnology and bioengineering that are beginning to enhance our daily lives, the products of engineering are ubiquitous in modern society. This makes it a subject of huge importance to the global economy, and to humanity as a whole.
Yet, we take much of this for granted. It is perhaps time engineering is better acknowledged for its contributions, not only to improving our quality of life, but the contribution that investment in technology and engineering projects makes to growth. In 2009, UK industry contributed 21% of the country’s GDP. Although UK engineering is highly successful, it is vital that it maintains its competitive position.
This following evidence was submitted by CaSE to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into the Role and Function of Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers (CSAs), on 11th October 2011. We’ve also compiled a Scorecard to rate the suitability of each departmental CSA, which you can view here.
The Commitee’s report was published in February 2012 and you can read it here.
- 1. The Campaign for Science and Engineering is a non-profit organisation which advocates for the UK to become a better place in which to conduct science and engineering. We are supported by a hundred different organisational members in the science and engineering sector, ranging from universities and companies to learned societies and research charities. Read More
The media regularly announces a national ‘crisis’ in engineering skills, with substantial numbers of engineers quoted as being needed during a given timeframe. These headlines are often sparked by shortages in specific sectors, regions and companies. But does this reflect reality?
The Queen Elizabeth Engineering Prize was launched at London’s Science Museum this morning. This new initiative, trailed earlier this year in the Growth Plan, is funded by an independent trust chaired by Lord Browne. The prize has received high level support, with Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Milliband all in attendance this morning.
Last week’s Northern Ireland Assembly election turned out to be somewhat of a damp squib for the political classes and media commentators who had so enthusiastically gathered to pick over the results. The outcome maintained the status quo in many ways, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein receiving a renewed mandate to continue as the two largest parties within the mandatory coalition.
By Katherine Barnes, Science Writer
Backlash over the Government’s interim cap on non-EU migrants continued this week, with scientists and engineers from academia and industry criticising the scheme and warning of its impact on the economy. University leaders are now protesting against a “double whammy”, with impending cuts to the science budget and an immigration cap that limits their ability to bring in top talent from abroad.
The government’s temporary cap on migrants was imposed on 28 June, in order to prevent a sudden swell in visa applications before a more permanent limit is brought in next year, but the limit was based on the number of overseas staff recruited in 2009, in the depths of recession.
Hugo Donaldson is Principal Policy Adviser at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
The skills shortage
The UK suffers from a substantial shortage of engineers, as the IET’s annual skills survey indicates. These skills shortages will have to be addressed if we are to meet national challenges such as mitigating climate change and re-balancing the economy with a greater role for manufacturing.
The new government is aware of the problem. The new Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has spoken repeatedly about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. So too have the Science and Universities Minister, David Willetts, and the Minister for Skills, John Hayes.
But what will they actually do? In some areas, policies have already been announced and a picture is emerging. In other areas, the direction the new government will take has yet to be decided, and the engineering profession must push its case.
Science and the New Parliament preceded (and slightly overlapped with) the budget today. It was organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) with the support of many other organisations, including CaSE.
Speakers came from across science and engineering to discuss the importance of working together with parliament and government to develop public policy. Imran Khan, CaSE Director, outlined CaSE’s current priorities and spoke of the need to work positively to engage and support incoming MPs.
A range of government and parliamentary speakers contributed their thoughts, including John Bercow, Speaker of the House, who opened the proceedings, Mark Lancaster, longtime supporter of the RSC’s work, Malcolm Wicks, former science minister, and Professor Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA).
The coalition government has published more details of its plans in Our Programme for government this morning. It does not add much to the initial coalition agreement with respect to science and engineering policies. It certainly lacks many policies that might be expected from looking at the pre-election promises from each of the parties. The introduction states:
we both want to build a new economy from the rubble of the old. We will support sustainable growth and enterprise, balanced across all regions and all industries, and promote the green industries that are so
essential for our future. (page 7)
The Government has given us an important and ambitious vision of a ‘new economy’, but not enough detail on how science and engineering will help us get there.
Science and engineering have a critical role to play in achieving growth and reducing the deficit. The coalition needs to explain how and when it will develop a long-term strategy for science and engineering. This is necessary to address the technological challenges facing the UK, to secure our international competitiveness, and to make the most of the economic growth that investment in innovation can provide.
In our brave new coalition government, it seems that there will be two strong, respected and thoughtful advocates for science and engineering. David Willetts has been appointed Minister of State for Universities and Science in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) with Vince Cable as Secretary of State for BIS. Cable studied natural sciences with economics at Cambridge and, while his background is not in the sciences, Willetts has often engaged well with science issues in his former roles as Shadow Secretary for Education and then Innovation, Universities and Skills. Read More
Below is the Labour response from Gordon Brown to the CaSE letter to the leaders.
27 April 2010
Dear Prof Griffiths and Mr Dusic
I warmly welcome this opportunity to respond to the Campaign’s invitation to set out my Party’s recognition of the importance of science to Britain and our commitment to world-class scientific excellence in this country.
Let me start by thanking the Campaign for its powerful advocacy for science since it started back in 1986 as “Save British Science”. It is a mark of the progress we have made that today’s challenge is improving and developing science in Britain from the secure foundations built since 1997. Read More
Below is the Conservative response from David Cameron to the CaSE letter to the leaders.
Monday, 5th April 2010
It is good of you to get in touch on what is an absolutely critical issue. Your belief in the importance of science and engineering is one that I share, and I am delighted to be given this opportunity to set out some of our ideas in this area. Read More
Below is the Liberal Democrat response from Nick Clegg to the CaSE letter to the leaders.
14th April 2010
Dear Prof Griffiths and Mr Dusic,
Thank you for your letter of 5th of March, which asked for an articulation of my party’s policies on science and engineering. Following the launch of our manifesto today, it gives me pleasure to enclose a full written response. I hope this will prove useful to you, your members, and to the wider public, in judging which of the political parties is best placed to secure the scientific and engineering future of our nation. Read More
Chi Onwurah is the Labour PPC for Newcastle Central. She graduated from Imperial College in 1987 with a degree in Engineering.
Although the election is only a few week old, what is called the ‘long campaign’ has been going on for months. As part of that, I have been meeting people from across Newcastle. I grew up here but like any politician I need to talk to the people I want to represent, and they need to get to know me.
In all that time I have learnt much that I did not know about Newcastle. The unemployment rate across the constituency by ward (it varies by ten percentage points). The number of new houses built in the last ten years (not enough). The number of different faiths (we have representatives of the Zoroastrian religion). But the fact which has delighted me more than any other is this: Newcastle University is a world leader in fuel cell research and the best in the country. Engineering, health and the environment have always been strengths of Newcastle University. But to be at the forefront of battery technology, that is fantastic. The green revolution on which all our futures depend, will be driven, sometimes literally, by fuel cells. That kind of research pre-eminence is priceless.
Dr Chris Gibson is the President of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.
The incoming government will be faced with many challenges, not least of which will be the growing costs of providing increasingly complex healthcare for an ageing population. The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) believes that continuing innovation in healthcare is an essential part of the solution.
As the Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and the Medical Director of the Department of Health have both argued, successful hospitals will be those which can change and develop their services to make the most efficient and effective use of new technologies. Healthcare scientists are a key component of this process, linking fundamental research with clinical applications, and safely integrating novel technologies into routine practice. The UK has a justifiably strong reputation for physics and engineering in medicine, and we believe this should be preserved and strengthened. Key issues include the availability of good physics and engineering graduates, and support for the necessary post-graduate and in-service training schemes.
Adam Symons is the Liberal Democrat PPC for Torridge and West Devon
The question on many commentators’ lips is how the UK can invest in much needed infrastructure for transport and energy, while at the same time deal with the debt fall-out from the credit crunch.
The basic truth is that we cannot stand still. The challenges of climate change, greater demand on services due to demographic changes, and scarcity of funds must not allow the UK to stagnate. Already, many parts of Europe are far ahead of us in terms of infrastructure.