House of COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
INNOVATION, UNIVERSITIES, SCIENCE AND SKILLS COMMITTEE
Wednesday 7 May 2008
MR KEITH READ CBE, MR PHILIP GREENISH CBE, MR ANDREW RAMSAY
and SIR ANTHONY CLEAVER
and MR FRANCIS EVANS
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
Taken before the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee
on Wednesday 7 May 2008
Mr Phil Willis, in the Chair
Mr Ian Cawsey
Dr Ian Gibson
Dr Evan Harris
Dr Brian Iddon
Dr Desmond Turner
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Keith Read, Chairman, G15 Group of Engineering Institutions, Philip Greenish, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Engineering, Andrew Ramsay, Chief Executive, Engineering Council UK, and Sir Anthony Cleaver, Chairman, Engineering and Technology Board, gave evidence.
Q133 Chairman: Could I welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses this morning to this formal evidence session on our Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee's inquiry on engineering. We welcome this morning Mr Keith Read CBE, Chairman of the G15 Group of Engineering Institutions - good morning - Mr Philip Greenish CBE, the Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering - it is nice to see you, Philip - Mr Andrew Ramsay, the Chief Executive of the Engineering Council - welcome, Andrew - and Sir Anthony Cleaver, the Chairman of the Engineering and Technology Board and an old friend of the previous Science and Technology Committee, but you are welcome with us again, Sir Anthony, and we are very grateful to see you. I am trying to move at a pace, so if I do not ask everybody the same question, then, please, do not feel left out. Quite frankly, when we started this inquiry and we are looking at the plethora of organisations and the relationships between different organisations, it was really difficult for the committee to negotiate its way through all that territory and I just wonder how have we got to this state of play, Philip. How have we got to the point where we have this plethora of different organisations and structure with engineering, and yet everybody is saying, "Woe is us; we need to do something to put engineering up there in lights"?
Mr Greenish: I think you have to delve back in history, Chairman. From the very start of the engineering institutional scene when the Institution of Civil Engineers was created in the early part of the nineteenth century other engineering bodies slowly developed and we ended up in a situation with engineering being a very, very broad set of disciplines, a very broad profession with groups of people, sometimes actually very large groups if you look at the size of the membership of some of the institutions, with very distinct interests in terms of their own part of the engineering profession. So one can see, given how important engineering has been to the development of the UK's industry and economy over the last couple of centuries, how private bodies, which are all charities governed by their own set of trustees, could have set up in the way that they were. One could then see how, I think in around about the 1960s, there was seen to be a need for a body that provided some sort of overseeing structure, so the Council of Engineering Institutions was created. It was not seen to be a huge success over time. The Engineering Council followed. After some time that was seen to need to change and the ETB and ECUK were created. My own organisation, the Royal Academy of Engineering, came about a little over 30 years ago, but I think the discussion had gone on for a long time before because engineering was not seen to be being properly represented in the national academies. The Royal Society had become very theoretical and was very pure in its approach, and the engineers of the day felt that there was a need for a national academy to represent engineering at the highest levels, and so we are where we are.
Q134 Chairman: Keith, we have now got 36 engineering institutions that we have identified as far as our inquiry is concerned. Is that the answer, what Philip has said, that it is just like topsy, that as a new branch arrived---
Mr Read: I think that is how it all arrived and, of course, as things develop you actually get new disciplines seeking to establish themselves and perhaps new institutions or new groupings coming together, and I think that helps. I think it is fair to say, of course, that some of them do merge. We have had quite a lot of mergers of institutions. People tend not to notice that happening, but that has been happening. Is that the answer to how it occurred? Yes. Is it what we need? I do not know if that is a question you were going to ask.
Q135 Chairman: I am coming on to that.
Mr Read: I suspect we are certainly not in an ideal world; we are where we are. If we started with a blank sheet of paper, I do not suppose for a minute we would have what we have at the moment. There are quite a lot of different models in different countries. I think the model where you have got a single overarching organisation has been tried. In some respects, I think, if you are starting from scratch, that is probably quite a good place to start from, but I do not think that the situation in which we find ourselves transitioning into that sort of model is actually a practical solution. I think we have to try and bring together the organisations so that they work much more closely together. The ones that are not affected should fall by the wayside and we should actually try to bring them together, I think, in much the way that we are attempting to do at the moment, in fact.
Q136 Chairman: Andrew, the Engineering Council: how did that come into being? It seems that every time there is a bit of a problem something new gets put in its place rather than reforming what is there.
Mr Ramsay: Yes.
Q137 Chairman: How did you come into existence?
Mr Ramsay: How did we come into it? The last real opportunity the Government had to intervene in engineering as a profession was following the Finniston Inquiry, which reported in 1980. Finniston recommended the creation of an engineering authority, which was going to be a statutory body, as a way of dealing with this problem of the plethora of organisations, establishing a single body that would establish the standards required to practise as an engineer. In fact, the Government of the day decided that it did not want another statutory body and created an Engineering Council as another body regulated by charter, and, in fact, that body itself had to negotiate with the Council of Engineering Institutions in order to transfer the Register of Chartered Engineers, and we are the successor to that body, in effect. I think all this reflects the fact that there has been hardly any government intervention in the organisation of the profession by comparison certainly with other countries, and the profession has grown organically and it is largely populated by volunteers who are, understandably, a bit little bit tribal in their attitude and funded almost entirely by the personal contributions, the membership subscriptions, of the members.
Q138 Dr Gibson: Tell us, please, about what this charter is? Is it unique to engineering? Does Parliament have any input into it whatsoever? How do you become a chartered engineer? Could I become one if I signed a piece of paper?
Mr Ramsay: There are several questions there. The first is "chartered engineer" is a standard applied by the Engineering Council, it belongs to the Engineering Council, and that was something the Government established back in 1984, and we hold the register of all the people who are able to call themselves chartered engineers. There are something like 180,000 of them, many of them overseas, but the majority in the UK, of course. In order to be awarded charted engineer designation people have to demonstrate they have the competence to practise as a chartered engineer, and that competence is assessed through a process which involves looking at their education, their training and, in particular, the evidence that they are practising at a level capable of being accepted as a chartered engineer. The way in which this is done (and this is where the profession works very well together) is that we, as a relatively small organisation, review and audit the processes of the 36 institutions that we recognise - in fact there are many more, but there are only 36 that are able to meet the standards required - and those people who pass through the process are registered by us as chartered engineers.
Q139 Dr Gibson: What is the purpose of having a chartered engineer? It is a piece of paper presumably.
Mr Ramsay: The purpose in economic speak is it is a market clearing exercise. We are establishing a standard which is recognised broadly by employers as being a standard for practice for a professional engineer.
Q140 Dr Gibson: It is like GPs or something, is it?
Mr Ramsay: It is very similar to the GMC standard, in fact, in many ways, in terms of the education and the training and the competence and so on.
Q141 Dr Gibson: Are there any professions that do not have "chartered" in front of their names?
Mr Ramsay: There are quite a few professions. There is probably an orderly queue outside the Privy Council office at any one time of new and developing---
Q142 Dr Gibson: So it is the Privy Council that eventually makes the decision?
Mr Ramsay: It is the Privy Council that decides whether to grant a charter. The Privy Council over the years has granted 18 charters to engineering organisations.
Q143 Dr Gibson: Do they not give them to
universities as well, the Privy Council?
Q144 Chairman: Sir Anthony, you are another organisation, the Engineering and Technology Board, and perhaps you will just say why that came into existence. Presumably because Andrew's failed! We will not say that, but perhaps something happened to it. In ten, 20 or 50 years' time will we still need the Royal Academy, the Engineering Council and the Engineering Technology Board and will all these organisations have come together? What is your vision when you are sat in your bath-chair somewhere?
Sir Anthony Cleaver: I hope that is some years off, as you say.
Q145 Chairman: I did say 20 or 50 years' time!
Sir Anthony Cleaver: I think it is, first, important to distinguish the roles of these organisations. I think the Royal Academy, for example, like the Royal Society, is aiming at the top of the profession, at academic excellence, et cetera, and I think it is very important that we have an organisation like that. That is very different from the membership organisations, the institutions. We, in turn, represent the whole area and, therefore, we have the challenge of trying to bring together and co-ordinate, where we can, a single voice for engineering. I think, inevitably, there will be the specialist interests of the various major institutions. Civil engineers do have areas that they specifically focus on and, quite properly, they need to make that case. I think it is important to put it in context too in terms of the number of engineers. There are, as Andrew said, I think 180,000 chartered engineers, but there are also a couple of other levels of engineering which are formally recognised by ECUK, so it is around 250,000 registered engineers, but there are 500,000 members of the institutions and, in fact, there are around two million engineers, in the broad definition, in the UK economy, and our role is actually to represent that whole body of engineering.
Q146 Chairman: But why do we need the Board and the Council?
Sir Anthony Cleaver: As far as the Board and the Council is concerned, that is a very straightforward relationship. The money that comes from the membership subscriptions comes through us to the Council and they have a very clear responsibility, the registration, the validation, the professional standards, and I think that works perfectly satisfactorily.
Q147 Dr Gibson: If I said to you, you are just a bureaucratised bunch of old boys enjoying a little bit of time in London in buildings that are half empty most of the time, would that be too much even for Jeremy Paxman to criticise?
Mr Ramsay: I would say it was jolly unfair. A split between ETB and the Engineering Council took place because the Engineering Council, from its initiation, had two roles: one to promote engineering and the other to regulate the profession, and those two roles are not especially compatible. Regulating the profession involves probably bureaucratic procedure, certainly attention to detail and a need to establish processes and quality assurance, and so on.
Q148 Dr Gibson: But you do not need this with medicine, do you?
Mr Ramsay: I think you have it with medicine.
Q149 Dr Gibson: We do not have all these 36 institutions?
Mr Ramsay: You have 15 Royal Colleges, 13 bodies, I think most of them chartered, recognised by the Health Professions Council, you have got the Academy of Medicine, the BMA (British Medical Association) and the General Medical Council and there are also a plethora of bodies set up by the Department of Health.
Q150 Dr Gibson: Do all the bureaucrats do anything?
Mr Ramsay: I would say that there are problems in the area of medicine.
Dr Gibson: Yes, I think there are.
Q151 Chairman: Let us come back to engineering. I am getting very depressed. We have looked at this plethora of organisations. You all say there are too many. It is a complicated landscape. Philip, this is your opportunity to say: in 15, 20 years' time what is the ideal solution? What should this committee be recommending as to how we can move forward on this?
Mr Greenish: I think most people in the engineering world are agreed that we would like to see simplification.
Q152 Chairman: That is not good enough. What are we going to do about it?
Mr Greenish: I think we would like to see opportunities created for institutions to merge where there are common interests that encourage them to merge. I think it is very difficult to tell them to merge unless there is some other from of legislation that comes up and forces the issue, which seems very unlikely to me.
Q153 Chairman: Would you like to see legislation?
Mr Greenish: No, I do not think I would. My personal view is that there is merit in having people who form together to promote and support their own part of the profession. It would be a neater and tidier model, as Keith suggested at the outset, if we were not where we were and if we did have a single engineering institution, perhaps with bodies within it, which represented those particular interest groups. I have enormous difficulty, though, seeing how we could get to that situation in a short period, in decades, let alone years.
Q154 Chairman: This is the century of innovation, is it not? This is going to be the century where innovation is what is going to drive our economy, it is going to drive the public service, and here you are not bringing forward an innovative idea to actually bring all this together. Keith, you are.
Mr Read: Can I toss in a bit of infill, Chairman. The first thing is that there are these 36 institutions. There are lots of things they can do together which they are not doing together at the moment but are actually gradually getting their act together and are beginning to do. There are lots of things they can do on the scale process. There is an awful lot of "competition", which really should not be there because it is non-productive and it is, if you like, nugatory work. You can take a whole raft of bureaucratic areas where we should be doing things together instead of doing them individually. That will enable us to focus on what I think you are after, which is engineers putting more into the innovation process, which is absolutely critical to the long-term future. That is all beginning to happen, we are beginning to work together in a way we have not worked before, we are doing things with the Royal Academy - this is the institutions - in a way that they had not before. The ETB is now populated with people from the institutions and that is beginning to become much more productive than it has been in the past, and so on, and so we are moving towards that. What Nirvana is in this case, I do not really know, but I share your view, which is that engineers have got to be right in there pushing the innovation bit. We have to push ourselves but we have also got to be dragged into it by the people, if you like by government, to actually contribute to those areas, and I think that is vitally important.
Q155 Dr Iddon: Where do government go for advice on a major issue?
Mr Greenish: Of the bodies that are represented here, the Royal Academy of Engineering is the only body which receives public funding as a national academy, and that brings with it responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is to provide advice to government when requested. I would say from my position that the first and most natural port of call for advice on engineering matters generally is the Royal Academy of Engineering. There may be instances where there is some specific piece of detailed advice which is firmly within one discipline. Take, for example, the recent inquiry into the floods where government chose to go to a particular individual, an engineer, who I think is member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, who had deep knowledge in that particular domain, and that was perhaps a natural choice for government. What the Academy can do as well, and is increasingly doing when we are asked for advice or when we decide that there is advice needed, even if it is not directly asked for, is to bring together the skills that are available in the engineering institutions to provide a common view into government. We have done that in the last year; we plan on doing it increasingly. I have to say, we have to work at it, because sometimes government does not necessarily want to hear from the engineering profession as a group, but it is something we want to do and are increasingly doing.
Sir Anthony Cleaver: I think this whole question of how we get to this Nirvana, if you like, is one that is going to take time. We are moving quite fast in terms of increasing the partnerships, as my colleagues here, for example, are all represented on the ETB now. That is a change over the last year and I think that is a significant step forward. We are now working together in a number of areas that we were not previously. We have a group of the communications directors, for example, who meet together now in order to discuss the way we present it, because a big part of the problem is simply getting engineering more recognised in all the various groups who are important with government, with careers advisers, with school children, with the universities, et cetera, and there is a lot more that we can do together and are beginning to do in that context. I think that over time we can develop these partnerships much more strongly. I think there will be some mergers over time and I think you will get a more coherent view, but there are other aspects that are very important too. We need to make sure we get the facts right. So one of the important things ETB has been doing is producing each year its publication Engineering UK, the last one obviously being 2007, and that, I think, is accepted as the best source of data on it. It is very important we get the data right, because a lot of this is driven by the media, by popular perception, or lack of perception. Again, we had a very interesting study last year with the Royal Academy of Engineering on perceptions of engineering. The results were not very encouraging in one sense, but at least we now have a baseline, we know what those perceptions are, we can measure that and we are now going to work together in order to drive that up, but I think we are so far in this country from understanding reality in many of these areas. Engineering is critical to manufacturing, and the common perception seems to be that manufacturing in this country is dead, and yet we actually made more cars last year as a country than any previous year in our history. So we have got to address those sort of issues. The ETB's role, in particular, is to promote the role of engineering and to transform that understanding of the whole area.
Q156 Chairman: If I were a careers teacher in my former life and someone said to me, "Will you tell me about engineering and the engineering professions?", and I were faced with this landscape, it would be incredibly difficult, unless you were highly specialised, to be able to give advice. That is just a comment.
Sir Anthony Cleaver: Can I respond to that one, because I think it is important? One of the things that came out of the joint Royal Academy/ETB perception study last year was an understanding that for the youngsters who we are really focusing on here, the people we want to go into engineering, their preferred method of communication is through the Internet. We have a website called scenta which we organise and co-ordinate on behalf of engineering. We get 10,000 hits a day. On that website we have, for example, 750 role models of engineers, young engineers, and what they are doing and why they are doing it. So, I think, for the teachers, for example, we need to improve their understanding of what is available and, again, we are working on that with the academy in particular. We focus on the careers guidance, the academy is working on the enrichment schemes, and so on, so I think a lot is changing at the moment.
Chairman: Thank you for that.
Q157 Dr Turner: There is something of a problem with the status of engineers in the public's eye. The public do not necessarily differentiate from the guy in mucky overalls who fixes your car and someone who engineered a marvel like the Bridge at Mayo, and this needs to be challenged, does it not? You are not going to get the best for the engineering profession unless the status in the eyes of the public, which is reflected in government and in every other respect down to the salary cheques of engineers, improves. What are you doing to challenge the perceived lack of status of engineers and are your efforts getting anywhere?
Mr Read: Shall I toss in a couple of things? The first thing is getting the publicity right, and we have not been doing that, but we are working very hard on that and the institutions - the Academy, the ETB and the ECUK - are now all involved with what was the Science Media Centre but now is the Science and Engineering Media Centre, and I think that is hugely important because that is beginning to get us into the media sites, if you like, and we all know how powerful that can be, particularly in raising the status or doing the opposite. We were actually all working together on the project. It was National Science Week, as you are probably aware, but that is now National Science and Engineering Week. That is because all of these organisations are now working together to do that, again, to raise the profile. We are developing the National Science Fair, an annual fair, a very large event particularly focused on young people. Again, we are all engaged on that. That, again, itself should raise the status. So, in terms of the outward looking, we are developing these things. There is a long way to go and we have a lot more to do. There is a one other thing that might help - I do not know if Andrew would like to comment on that - and that is statutory recognition of professional title. If you are looking for one thing that this committee could do, it might well be to promote that. Andrew.
Mr Ramsay: Yes, while I would not be an advocate that government should get involved in regulating the profession, I think recognition of the profession would be a great help. In most of the other countries we work with there is legal recognition of title - not necessarily function, because it is very difficult to recognise function because the function of engineers varies right across the economy, but the title engineer, or at least chartered engineer and probably the other titles, engineering technician and incorporated engineer, would indicate that government took engineering seriously. There is an Architects Registration Board, there is a General Medical Council which you have to register with in order to practise in the Health Service, to be a lawyer in the court of the UK you have to be a member of the Law Society or the Bar Council. Engineers can call themselves engineers and there is no constraint on what sort of engineer you employ to build your fighter plane or your bridge or your motorway.
Q158 Dr Turner: I was going to come to the question of the statutory recognition of title. You have this, to a limited extent, with the title of chartered engineer already, but you want to build on it. Do you want to end up with something like the German model, Herr Doctor Engineer, who is a pillar of society that everybody recognises? What sort of title would you like to see and how would you regulate it?
Mr Ramsay: The profession is not terribly together, you will not be surprised to hear, on prefix titles. We did introduce something called Euro Engineer, which you are allowed to use on British passports only if you are registered with the European Association, which we are a major player in, as a professional engineer. EURENG - not a terribly attractive title! I think there is a case for having a prefix title: Engineer Ramsay or Engineer Greenish, or IR, as some countries use. We had a visit from the President of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers last night at a reception and he and all his delegation had prefix titles IR, indicating that they were registered in Hong Kong as engineers. I think that would make some way towards improving the status of professional engineers.
Q159 Dr Turner: Presumably, to back it up, there would have to be rigorous entry qualifications to this status, which the Engineering Council would be happy to recommend?
Mr Ramsay: We do actually apply very rigorous requirements, and for that reason, partly for that reason anyway, we only are recognising something like a third of the people practising as professional engineers in this country. The others either have not bothered or consider it might be too difficult to gain chartered recognition, but, of course, for many of them there is no economic problem about not being a chartered engineer because employers do not at the moment discriminate terribly much between chartered and non chartered.
Q160 Chairman: Can I ask whether Sir Anthony and Philip agree with Des' point here and the one that Andrew and Keith raised? Just very briefly, do you support that?
Mr Greenish: I do, and I add another aspect too, if I may. In terms of recognition of what engineers actually are as professionals, there is a huge education task that needs to be done, and it is an education task at every level and at every age, and the perceptions audit which Tony referred to showed that, although the level of ignorance is enormous in terms of people understanding what engineering actually is, it does not take very much to raise that level of understanding substantially and the penny drops in people's minds, young people's minds, after not very much explanation about what engineers actually do in the world. So that actually focuses most of our minds here on the importance of getting into schools, of getting careers advice.
Q161 Chairman: Just on this title, I want to stick to the title: do you support government actually intervening here to make the title "engineer" protected in law?
Mr Greenish: Yes.
Mr Ramsay: I think it is worth recognising that government lawyers would probably advise that reserving the title "engineer" would be very difficult, because throughout the economy people are calling themselves engineers. It is a word that goes back to the fourteenth century at least. It would have to be a qualified title. So something like "chartered engineer", which at the moment is protected by civil law, just like any trade mark, being protected by statutory law would be a big difference; it would indicate government was serious.
Mr Greenish: That is my view too.
Q162 Dr Harris: Can I follow this up? Have you made any progress with government in pursuing this? The osteopaths managed it, and one can have a view about osteopathy, but any progress with government in the last 100 years on this topic?
Mr Ramsay: We have had many discussions with government, mainly DTI, and, as far as regulation of the profession is concerned, the response has always been: "Fine yes, if industry are prepared to support it." I think regulating just the title is quite a new idea that we are discussing within the profession.
Q163 Dr Harris: Let us go further into that. You have asked for some sort of regulation you have just described. Let us take the example of "chartered engineer" being protected, and the Government has said, yes, if industry says yes, and what have they done?
Mr Ramsay: There is a hidden rider there, which is that, of course, governments are generally not in favour of increasing red tape for industry. Anything that constrained industry from choosing who they might employ in an engineering function would be seen as anti-competitive. So we have shifted subtly from that position of looking for regulation of function to simply regulation of title, which appears to be lightweight but at least indicates that this Government is interested.
Q164 Dr Turner: There is a point there. Regulation of titles is relatively easy, we can deal with that with an administrative stroke, but most other professional titles, like doctors registered by the GMC and so on, have more significance than that because they cannot legally practise their profession unless they hold those titles; they would be breaking the law. Can you see any mechanism by which you can actually underpin the title of "world chartered engineer", or whatever, with some statutory requirement for them to have that title to undertake certain work?
Mr Ramsay: No, if you look closely at the professions where regulation is an entitlement to practise, you find that you have got monopoly purchasers like the National Health Service. It is, in fact, possible to practise as a surgeon, providing you have the permission of your patient, outside of the Health Service, if anyone is silly enough to do that. There is no regulation that I am aware of that prevents that. Similarly with lawyers, the access to the courts of the UK is the principal issue here. People can call themselves lawyers and can practise in big commercial firms as lawyers without having any membership of the Law Society or the Bar Council. The problem about engineering is that it is entirely ubiquitous. Engineers are used throughout the economy at every level and for every purpose and it is absolutely impossible to draw a line round engineering and say that is it. The nearest that any country has got to this is Canada, where to practise as a professional, indeed to call yourself a professional engineer, you are required to be registered with one of the provincial licensers. Canada is experiencing big problems because its huge mineral resources are requiring an awful lot more engineers than they can train themselves, and those engineers who wish to work in Canada, or are brought to work in Canada, are finding difficulty being recognised and calling themselves engineers, and this is a real problem there.
Q165 Dr Harris: On the more limited scope, the more limited ambition of protection of title of chartered engineer, which you explained was not one that would be seen as anti-competitive, what progress have you made with the Government agreeing to provide that, as they have for osteopaths?
Mr Ramsay: We have not asked the Government. I am hoping this may be something this committee might see as worthwhile.
Q166 Dr Gibson: Why have you not asked the Government yourselves? Why do you expect us to do it for you?
Mr Ramsay: Because it takes time for the profession itself to agree on seeking something like this and it is a consensus profession.
Q167 Dr Gibson: I thought you all agreed with each other that you should do this; so what is holding you up? You are frightened to go to the Government there.
Mr Ramsay: I think you will find that within some of the professional institutions there would be a reluctance to go for this because it might be seen as undermining the standing of their own titles.
Sir Anthony Cleaver: My concern, in a sense, is a slightly different one, I have to say. This is focusing at the top end of chartered engineers and so on, and that is very important and critical to us in the same way that having the right number of really good engineering graduates is critical, but we actually have a much bigger problem in this country at the moment that really demands our attention, and that is at the engineering technician level. If I can give you one or two statistics there, one in five engineering employees say they have serious skills gaps. That amounts to some 70,000 people that they are short. Only five per cent of those are at the professional level, it is the technician level, and there we have got a serious issue in terms of the numbers of people who go into FE. Over the last, I think, ten years the number of people in FE studying engineering and technology has declined by 25 per cent.
Chairman: I am going to come on to some of those issues, so can I pass on that, Sir Anthony.
Q168 Dr Harris: I have got one more question to try and stagger through, if you could bear with me. I am interested to hear that on the limited ambition of getting "chartered engineer" protected the Government has not formally been approached yet because of divisions or the need to get agreement?
Mr Ramsay: Consensus; there is not a particular division.
Q169 Dr Harris: A lack of consensus is another way of calling it a difference of opinion, at least in my family. If you were to approach the Government, do you have an easy way in or is it through the business focused DTI? Is there a portal into government that is sensitive to engineering as engineering rather than just as an industry issue? In other words, should there be a government chief engineer or chief engineering adviser?
Mr Ramsay: We would support that.
Mr Greenish: We would support that. If it is not an individual who is called the Chief Engineering Adviser, then it should be formally enshrined in the Chief Scientific Adviser, but we firmly believe there should be a very specific focus at that senior level on engineering in government.
Q170 Dr Harris: Is the Chief Scientific Adviser engineering enough for you over the last few appointments, or have you felt that they have concentrated on non engineering types of science?
Mr Greenish: I think we have felt that there has not been sufficient focus on engineering, given its importance.
Q171 Chairman: Do you all agree with that?
Mr Read: I would agree with that. I think Philip is speaking certainly for the institutions in that respect. Yes, I think we would all agree with that.
Q172 Chairman: Andrew and Sir Anthony, do you agree?
Mr Ramsay: I agree.
Sir Anthony Cleaver: Yes, I think so. I think, again, of course a number of the Chief Scientific Advisers have actually been engineers themselves. John Fairclough is one who springs to mind in my case. I think it has varied enormously on the individual who has been appointed into that role. I think the decision really is whether you have a chief engineer as such or whether you have it enshrined within the Chief Scientist's role very specifically that that must be accounted for.
Ian Stewart: Good morning. Can any of you identify for me where the severe engineering skill shortages are in the UK and internationally?
Q173 Chairman: I will come back to you, Sir Anthony.
Sir Anthony Cleaver: This is exactly the area that I was concerned with. The biggest shortage at the moment is at the engineering technician level. These are the sort of people who historically went to the Polys, they are the sort of people who go through FE, typically, who may then go on in some cases, but many do not, and the requirement there is enormous and we have a real concern about that. As I said, over the last few years in FE the number of people studying engineering and technology has declined by 25 per cent. We know that the cohort coming through in the population is smaller as we go forward over the next few years, so there is a challenge there, and there are a number of other issues. For example, the completion rate. Of the people who go into it, the completion rate is getting down towards only 50 per cent, so we have serious problems in that area. That is an area that we believe we need to tackle. We are about to launch a campaign later this year specifically aimed at that area, but, again, that is an area that needs everybody working together, as with apprenticeships, for example. We welcomed the extra money in the last budget going into this area, the push on the apprenticeship schemes and so on, but this only works if you get industry, government and academia all working together, and what we are trying to do with this campaign is to push in that area working with some of the RDAs, working with the FE establishment, working with the employers. We have a business and industry panel as part of the ETB, so the leading employers send a representative on to our business and industry panel and we use that and regularly consult them to understand what employers are looking for in this context, and that, again, is their bigger concern, which is why they are very supportive of this campaign.
Q174 Chairman: Is that reflected internationally?
Sir Anthony Cleaver: Yes, indeed.
Mr Ramsay: The point I would like to make is that this is especially true as far as technology engineers, level three in the economy are concerned. There is a much better established market in professional engineers. We benchmark "chartered engineer" against equivalents around the world and there are well-established flows of engineers back and forward between different countries depending on economic demand. The problem for professional engineers is that it takes at least seven years to create one from leaving school, and they do not respond terribly well to changes in the demand of the economy. So the international market is very important, and we have been quite successful in the UK in selling our engineering expertise overseas. We have a substantial trade balance in favour of engineering services.
Q175 Chairman: Is this in specific sectors, both the shortages and the surplus? Can you say which sectors of engineering have got surpluses which areas have got deficits?
Mr Ramsay: You can divide down into quite narrow branches of engineering and find enormous variations in demand even from year to year. In broad terms, I can recall that round about 1990 the construction industry in the UK fell off a cliff - it was the when Canary Wharf was bankrupt, and so on - and construction had died.
Q176 Chairman: What is it like now?
Mr Ramsay: Right now, there is a tremendous demand for civil engineers, which is the point I was going to make. In fact the response has been a 45 per cent increase in the number of people studying civil engineering over the last four years. So there is clearly some feedback.
Q177 Ian Stewart: How has that come about? What have you done to make that increase happen?
Mr Ramsay: We as the engineering councils are not directly involved in promoting specific branches of engineering, and this is where the 36 institutions do have a positive role to play. The Institution of Civil Engineers has worked very hard to promote civil engineering in schools and through the joint efforts of---
Mr Read: I was going to say, the individual institutions will respond to the market. Of course, their livelihood actually depends upon them recruiting members, and so where there is a perceived deficit, trying to get people to go through the university courses, recruiting the students, the graduates, and so on, into the institutions is part of that market mechanism. The other point I was going to make is the linkage between the sector skills councils and what Tony was talking about in relationship to the engineering technician. The competencies that the engineering technicians have need to be reflected in what the sector skills councils are looking for. I think in some respects there is a mismatch between what the Government perceives the sector skills councils should be doing and looking for and what industry actually needs. What the Engineering Council in its registration can do in actually helping bridge that gap---
Q178 Ian Stewart: Who has the strategic role then? If you have this plethora of different bodies on the delivery side and responding to the market, who has the strategic role?
Mr Read: There is no single strategic body, if you like.
Q179 Ian Stewart: Is that not a weakness?
Mr Read: I think it is, and that is what we were saying earlier. We are trying to get the organisations working much more closely together than we have done in the past.
Q180 Ian Stewart: Who is the driver then? Which of the bodies is the driver for deciding who should make the strategy and who should oversee the strategy?
Mr Read: It is a very good question.
Mr Ramsay: It is down to individuals. As we said at the beginning, these are private organisations, funded by private money, run by volunteers. Getting them to work together is enormously difficult, and we are, all four of us, involved in trying to do that.
Q181 Ian Stewart: I have to say, Andrew, to the lay person like me, it looks as though you are fobbing the responsibility off.
Mr Greenish: But I would say that there is a role for the Royal Academy of Engineering and that we have over the last few years been working much harder at bringing together the engineering institutions, the ETB and others who are focused on the same objective, to target particular issues where we feel that it really is critical that we have our act together as a concerted whole. For example, the promotion of engineering as a career to young people and helping young people improve their understanding, or create an understanding, of what engineering is about. A few years ago there was this vast and disparate range of activities that was completely uncoordinated that took place in and around schools. Over the last couple of years we as a group have brought that together in a single suite of activities which we have promoted to DCSF. They have now adopted it. It is called Shape the Future. We have produced a directory of programmes which is now being used by the education system to promote the activities which we all contribute to which help young people to understand what engineering is about.
Q182 Dr Gibson: It is not related to what the country need, is it?
Mr Greenish: It is.
Q183 Dr Gibson: It is no use saying, on the one hand, that each of you do your own thing and then you say you mix it together occasionally. The times you have tried to merge, the members have turned you down. Is not that the case? I know, and you might know, several engineering groups have tried to merge together and the members turned them down. We had the same story from cancer charities, and within a year they have merged. The biggest cancer charities in this country have merged and they are still merging bit by bit - the same animosities, but they have merged - because they see that the benefit for the public and the people is to have that kind of complex, and that is where you have real muscle power with government.
Mr Read: I think we agree with all of that and I think we are trying to work in that direction.
Dr Gibson: You will have to do it faster, that is all, because we are short of engineers!
Q184 Ian Stewart: How does government assist you to move faster? How are we going to guarantee that we have the engineering skills to deliver the Olympics, the new nuclear build which is coming?
Mr Read: You can encourage companies, industry, to actually provide training programmes for people going into engineering, which do not exist at the moment - they used to exist, they do not today to a large extent - and I think that is hugely important. It not only brings people in, but it retains them. You can encourage companies to actually view registration that actually it is important for people's career progression to actually be registered with the Engineering Council. All of those sorts of things will do the things that we are talking about.
Q185 Ian Stewart: Keith, that is an important progression for the future. Have we got the capacity now to deliver the Olympics and any new nuclear build?
Mr Greenish: I think that is a very challenging question. I would have said, yes, but it is an international economy and it will require the import of skills in order to enable us to deliver it. I think it is fair to say that this country over the last decade or two in the nuclear arena, for example, has lost a substantial skill base and that if a new nuclear build programme is recreated and created quickly, then we are going to have to draw on the international market for a lot of those skills. It also highlights the need for government, and you did ask what government could be doing, to ensure that the supply chain is really bolstered. So the Stem Programme which the DCSF are running, which is focused on increasing the number of kids doing science and maths at school, needs to focus much more strongly than it does at the moment on engineering. Science tends to dominate.
Q186 Ian Stewart: I am interested, Philip, in the comment you made about the international market. Will the Government have to make it easier for UK companies to draw on the international engineering market?
Mr Greenish: I would have said UK companies---
Q187 Ian Stewart: Do we need to alter permanent rules, for example?
Mr Ramsay: Yes. There is an issue right now, and we are talking to the Home Office about it. The new regulations for immigration and migration into the UK recognise academic qualifications but not professional qualifications, and we think this is a mistake, but we think it can be corrected.
Q188 Dr Gibson: There are no points for professional---
Mr Ramsay: No points for being professionally qualified in any branch of any discipline, quite apart form engineering.
Q189 Chairman: Do you all agree - just give me a yes for the record - that that issue that Ian Stewart has raised about easier access to overseas engineers has really got to be addressed by us soon.
Mr Ramsay: Definitely.
Mr Greenish: Yes.
Mr Read: Yes.
Sir Anthony Cleaver: Yes.
Chairman: The panel all indicated yes.
Q190 Mr Cawsey: I want to move on to the bit about the longer-term solutions in engineering; what we do to encourage younger people to join the profession. We have had a list of a whole series of initiatives that exist - engineering clubs, challenges and competitions and courses and all the rest. However, by its very nature, there must be a considerable time lag between inspiring a young person perhaps at school and them eventually becoming an engineer working on their first project. Out of this plethora of initiatives that are ongoing at the moment, is it too early to be making judgments about whether they have been successful or not and when might we start to see them bear fruit?
Sir Anthony Cleaver: I think there are a lot of very recent initiatives. For example the engineering diploma, which clearly is something one would hope would address some of these issues quite significantly is just starting and it will be about five years before that is going to bear fruit in that sense. Again, I emphasise, at the graduate level we do not have a supply problem in general. It is at that intermediate level, and that is where I think we have got to continue to focus. The other important point to make is that things move so fast in engineering areas that you cannot expect to get people trained at the cutting edge by academia; industry has to develop them; and so it is important that we focus again on what industry is looking for from academia at all levels. The ability to have a team-working capability, to communicate well, problem solving and so on - those are the things that I think we have to make sure get built in, and I think those are the things in the curriculum we can expect to see more focus on as we go through in time. I think those are the important things.
Mr Greenish: I think there is a really important point in your question, which is that we need to work really hard to understand how interventions at different stages of a young person's life actually make an effect in terms of their decisions and where they end up at the end, and there is a huge amount of work that does go into encouraging young people to pursue science at school and then to go on to study engineering at whatever level. Asking them, measuring numbers and identifying the effect that these interventions do have is something that we have all put a lot of effort into. The evidence is that actually it does have a significant effect. You heard a week ago a panel of young people, and some of them were quite clear that their understanding had changed; their minds had been changed by things that they did at school as youngsters that made them recognise what this was about.
Q191 Mr Cawsey: I think one thing that came across, though, was that that was often driven just because that school had a particular teacher who personally was interested. In other words, it was a consistent pattern, it was just if you were lucky to be in a school where a teacher was willing to do that?
Mr Greenish: That is absolutely right, and that is why it is so important that we do succeed in getting a science and engineering club in every school so that every school child has the opportunity to benefit from this. We are running a project in South London - in fact, the kids you saw last week, most of them came from the London Engineering Project - and that is demonstrating, it is not conclusive yet, that when you open up these opportunities, by opening young minds in disadvantaged areas their lives can be transformed, they understand, they realise.
Mr Read: I wanted to make one point, and that is the importance of mathematics in schools, which is the one single thing that drags people through into engineering and keeps them in engineering, and at the moment there is not enough and it is not good enough. I just wanted to make that point because I think it is very relevant to the questions that are being asked there.
Q192 Mr Cawsey: On these initiatives that you have tried, hopefully successfully, given that there is this time lag between inspiring and results, is there a danger that initiatives get pushed to one side too quickly because you want to move on to something else and you do not allow things to reach fruition through their own natural course?
Mr Greenish: I think it is important to focus on the ones that work and to build on success. It is dead easy to start something new and it is dead difficult to close it down, and so building on the successful ones is critical.
Q193 Mr Cawsey: Who assesses that: because they are not quick fixes, are they? Who assesses what is working?
Mr Greenish: They are not. Actually, it is best assessed by the users. So if the schools find that they are successful and they like them, then they will naturally grow, and to encourage those ones is the key.
Mr Read: Developing the statistical evidence, which the ETB is doing, I think it is very important that we have this hard evidence on a year-by-year basis so we can actually see what is working and what is not.
Q194 Mr Cawsey: Can you tell us about the Shape the Future initiative. Indeed all of these industries: would they benefit from better co-ordination and would something with greater strategic oversight yield better results or be impracticable?
Mr Greenish: Yes, and the Shape the Future initiative is heading in that direction. It started off really with the positive encouragement of the then Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury, who wanted us to work to improve the promotion of engineering to young people, and the first and most tangible thing that we have done is, first of all, the major engineering institutions have all agreed that at GSCE level and below they will not promote their own branch of engineering, they will promote engineering generically. The second thing is the creation of a directory of schemes which are all the principal, national level schemes which enrich science education with engineering projects and the like, and that has been extremely successful to the extent that the DCSF have taken it over from the engineering community and they have led a contract to create similar directories of schemes for science and for maths. The latest I heard is that they will all be called Shape the Future, which I think is a huge success, and that came out of the engineering community working together from two to three years ago.
Q195 Mr Cawsey: That is quite interesting. My final question on this section was going to be that. If there is going to be better co-ordination on all of this, is it best done by engineers perhaps through the Academy or is it a job for the department?
Mr Greenish: My personal view is that the engineering profession have to stand up and be counted and we have to do it ourselves. If it is a case of creating something and persuading government to take it over, that is a good way forward.
Q196 Ian Stewart: Are we teaching engineering graduates and school children the right things?
Sir Anthony Cleaver: This is where we need to make sure that we understand exactly what industry wants and to work from that backwards with the academic community. So at the ETB we have recently formed an education and skills panel which has people from Vice-Chancellors of Cranfield, for example, right the way through to representatives from the school level, from FE, and so on, to try and bring together a focus across the range there which we can work with our business and industry panel, representing industry, to try and make sure that this interface is as tight as possible. I think it is very clear that at the schools level, as my colleagues have said, the basic requirement is fundamentally maths and then science, physics, et cetera, as far as possible; but increasingly things move so fast in this area. The areas where the UK is ahead in engineering are areas like nanotechnology, bioengineering, advanced materials, plastic electronics, and so on. All of those areas we are actually leading. They are all areas that move very, very fast; so what we need is people coming out who have got the fundamental understanding of the maths, and so on, who have got the ability to work together and have those inter-personnel skills that the industry can then take forward into those areas.
Q197 Ian Stewart: Sir Anthony, you have identified the areas of interest, the development areas for the country for the future, you have identified the importance of the interface, but would you actually change the curriculum? Are there issues in the curriculum that you would wish to see made compulsory, for example?
Mr Greenish: May I pick that up? The academy produced a report last year called Educating Engineers for the Twenty-first Century, and it was based upon a substantial body of work, working with industry, talking to industry, to identify where they see the requirements, where they see the need to improve the skills for engineering graduates. We then went to the universities to talk them about how well they were meeting the industry's aspirations. Out of that report there was definitely a case to be answered, because it is patchy. Lord Sainsbury in this report Race to the Top has actioned government, and government has accepted the action, to review the nature of engineering degree level education.
Q198 Ian Stewart: Can I stop you there. I want to come on to universities in a moment. Could you just concentrate a little bit about the school level first? You seemed to move away from that very fast.
Mr Greenish: Okay, back to the school level. The science curriculum has been changing. The maths curriculum has changed. There was a bit of a disaster about four years ago when the AS level maths was introduced and the numbers taking it plummeted. The introduction of the engineering diploma, I think, is critical, because it brings engineering into the school timetable for the first time, and there is a huge volume of work going in now to preparing the ground - it is going to be rolled out in September - to make sure that it starts well and does not start limply, which is always a risk when such a huge new initiative is created.
Q199 Dr Gibson: How many specialist schools of engineering are there in this country? You are an expert.
Mr Greenish: Not enough. It is not many.
Q200 Dr Gibson: One, two, three?
Mr Ramsay: No, there are dozens.
Q201 Dr Gibson: Are you doing much to get more?
Mr Ramsay: Specialist school status does not necessarily mean that a great deal of extra engineering input is going on. This is a way of---.
Q202 Dr Gibson: It is a start, is it not? You start with industry in your community and you have regional development agencies putting money in, supposedly, too. That is what it is all about. What have you done in that area? Are you pushing for specialist schools in engineering? Dozens of schools teach science but not engineering.
Mr Ramsay: We have worked with the Specialist Schools Trust to try and encourage more engineering schools, but in fact the Engineering Council is concerned with the standard of practice, not education.
Mr Read: At institution branch level out in the country, I think it is happening in places, but it is not---
Q203 Dr Gibson: You do not have a plan?
Mr Read: No, we do not.
Dr Gibson: That is why I am asking precisely. You are the men in charge and you cannot give me an answer.
Q204 Chairman: Can I go one step further, because we are very tight on time. Roughly 950 schools are going to start the new diploma in engineering in September 2008, Philip, and yet one in four head teachers say that it lacks the academic rigor to lead youngsters forward on to university, and one in two universities say that they will not accept it as a qualification going into university, including many of our so-called top universities. What are you doing about that? Unless this works, quite frankly, I do not know where we go next, so what are you doing about it?
Mr Greenish: Currently I have two people, who I recruited this year, to work on the curriculum for the engineering diploma. One is working specifically on the maths element of the diploma, the Level 3 element, and the other is working more generically on the diploma curriculum. That, for an organisation of the size of the Academy, is a substantial resource that we are putting into it. Matthew Harrison, my Director of Education, is leading the Lambeth and Southwark Diploma Consortium and it is taking up a substantial part of his working day, so the Academy itself is putting a lot of resource into helping make the diploma work when it is rolled out in September. I would add that it was reported some months ago that the head of admissions at Cambridge said that the maths element of the diploma was now better or more suitable for entry into engineering courses at Cambridge than A-level maths.
Q205 Chairman: We need to say that more often though, do we not?
Mr Greenish: We do.
Q206 Ian Stewart: That is interesting. I am sorry for stopping you earlier but I wanted to get that area covered a bit deeper. Back to the university side, you have called these institutions for more funding for engineering teaching in universities.
Mr Greenish: Yes.
Q207 Ian Stewart: Have you any idea how much that would cost and would you like to say what you would do with that money?
Mr Greenish: I do not have the figure with me of how much more it would cost, but we do know that most universities make a loss on their engineering courses. If the engineering courses are going to be turned around towards more of this CDIO model, which your group last week touched on - conceive, design, implement, operate - really bringing engineering to life at university in a way that, when I studied it, it was not brought to life, then it is expensive. Bringing engineering education to life with more practical work is of course expensive. MIT, with whom we have some quite close connections, are putting about $20 million into not actually making the changes but examining what needs to be changed in their engineering training, and we are working with them. We have Ed Crawley of MIT who is going to be on the body that we are putting together to conduct the work that Lord Sainsbury asked DSCF to commission, so there is a connection there. There is a lot of work that needs to be done; I am not saying that it is broken but it could be an awful lot better.
Q208 Dr Iddon: Philip, there have also been calls to waive student debt in order to attract students into engineering; is that a general call from the engineering profession, to waive student debt at the end of the courses?
Mr Greenish: To my knowledge it has not been, I do not think there has been a specific focus on that.
Mr Read: I think it was in the written evidence that it was mentioned.
Dr Iddon: It has been mentioned by the Royal Aeronautical Society, the UK Engineering Alliance and the Association for Consultancy of Engineering.
Ian Stewart: For home students.
Q209 Dr Iddon: Yes, just for home students.
Mr Greenish: It would be a wonderful way of encouraging more students to this subject.
Mr Read: As a group of institutions it is something we have not particularly focused on and discussed; whether that is something we should be pushing for but, no, we have not done that.
Q210 Dr Iddon: I do not think you would get both the increase in teaching money and that, so you would have to choose.
Mr Greenish: To be honest as well I would say that industry needs to stand up and be counted here. If industry has a real demand for high quality graduate engineers then enticing them into industry with golden hellos is a very good way.
Dr Iddon: They used to sponsor a lot of students on the four-year courses in the polytechnics in days bygone.
Q211 Chairman: Has anyone done the calculation as to how much more money is needed to improve the teaching in our universities of engineering; do you have a figure?
Mr Greenish: I hope I can provide you with a figure, Chairman, there is a figure. I will do so.
Q212 Dr Iddon: Engineering attracts more foreign students onto the courses in Britain than probably any other subject, but countries like China and India are getting quite professional in teaching their own students and there are going to be huge demands in the future for engineers in those countries. Do you see the reliance on foreign students in our universities as a problem or not in the future?
Mr Ramsay: Up to date it has been a benefit because it has helped to disguise the under-provision of money for engineering programmes because students from outside the European Union pay top whack, top fees, for studying here. As China builds its own higher education system, yes, there will be less demand from China but there is a lot of evidence that the one child policy in China means that they are going to be short of engineers for the foreseeable future anyway.
Q213 Dr Iddon: You seem to be making my point that there may be a global shortage, and somebody mentioned earlier the importance of attracting engineers to work on projects globally.
Mr Read: That is very true and it is one of the reasons why the chartering process here is internationally so important, because it is one of the things that we can export and encourage people to come and take their degrees here to start with, but actually we can export our own quality levels into the developing countries.
Q214 Dr Iddon: What you are saying, Keith, is increasing the status of engineers in Britain will continue to attract foreign students to study here.
Mr Read: Absolutely; I would say that the British chartered engineer has a far higher status internationally than he does at home.
Chairman: On that very positive note we will bring to an end this first session and thank very much indeed Keith Read, Philip Greenish, Andrew Ramsay and Sir Anthony Cleaver. Could we bring our second panel on as quickly as possible, please?
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Ms Terry Marsh. Director, Women Into Science, Engineering and Construction, Mrs Gemma Murphy, Marketing Development Officer, Smallpeice Trust, Ms Pat Langford, Director, Programmes, STEMNET, and Francis Evans, Chief Executive, the Learning Grid, gave evidence.
Q215 Chairman: We welcome our second panel, and I trust you found that first discussion interesting. We welcome Ms Terry March, the Director of WISE, welcome Terry; Mrs Gemma Murphy, the Marketing Development Officer for the Smallpeice Trust, welcome to you Gemma; Ms Pat Langford, the Director of Programmes at STEMNET, welcome, and Mr Francis Evans, the Chief Executive of the Learning Grid, welcome to you all. Could I start with you, Pat, to say all four of you work in widening participation in engineering, why are you needed? We have this plethora of other organisations, why do we need you and your colleagues?
Ms Langford: If I talk particularly for my organisation I think we are possibly unique in being a very clear business education interface, so we are tasked by government almost to act in a pivotal role to bring together the requirements of industry and help them to be translated into the school environment. The thing that I said in my evidence is that it is very much a case for us of being able to show young people what the reality of the engineering world is and that is where we and colleagues have a unique role to play.
Q216 Chairman: We have just heard the Royal Academy of Engineering saying that is what they do.
Ms Langford: That is very true. I suppose STEMNET is unique in as much as we receive direct government funding to exist and so, in a way, it is a free gift if you like back to industry that enables them to put some of their messages direct to the schools without them having to almost pay to do so.
Q217 Chairman: Francis, you are a free gift; would you share that view? Why do we need you? I do not mean you personally, I am sure you are a wonderful person, but your organisation.
Mr Evans: I guess as far as a free gift is concerned industry felt, looking at what was provided by the different organisations, including all the gentlemen you heard from a moment ago, that they would like to see more and better information, including a quality standard and a guide to the activities in which they could participate, and they felt that would help them as companies to decide which ones to take part in and they felt it would help the schools and the teachers as well. They therefore asked government to create this programme of Learning Grid and, crucially, directly to support those individual activities such as the Smallpeice Trust and others that deliver in schools. The feeling of industry was that there is a good deal of funding going towards activities such as brokerage and the interface from STEMNET which is valuable and necessary, but with all of this the people who are actually with the pupils doing the activities were getting left out and getting very little funding, so they asked government to create a body that would administer that and fund activities directly in schools.
Q218 Chairman: All right. Terry, we know a little about how WISE was created but surely we have gone beyond you now and it is all being done by these other guys.
Ms Marsh: As you say, Sir Monty Finneston, we have heard what he was doing setting up the Engineering Council and he also set up WISE in association with the Equal Opportunities Commission in 1984 - in fact they ran a year in 1984 called "the WISE Year" and said it might have to last a little bit longer than a year to actually change what was going on, and here we are coming up to 25 years next year. Yes, I work across the piece, I am not actually delivering to individual girls, at WISE we are working in collaboration with all the other organisations, asking them about how well they are doing relative to girls, asking them to track the progress of girls, because basically the number of girls studying engineering has doubled in the last 25 years from seven per cent to 15 per cent, but actually that 15 per cent was arrived at quite a while ago and all the quick and easy wins have been achieved and we are now into the hard wins, we are now into trying to do things a bit differently. WISE is here to be innovative and creative, to actually challenge traditional approaches and say what you have been doing in the past has stopped working or has stopped delivering increases and we have to look at it from a different perspective.
Q219 Chairman: Gemma, the Smallpeice Trust, where is your little bit of territory?
Mrs Murphy: It is slightly different to the other schemes I guess because our organisation is actually a major deliverer of promoting engineering and stem activities to schools, so over the last 12 months we have had about 8600 students in this country who have attended one of our activities. This starts at Year 9 and works right up until Year 12. What we think is very important is actually to concentrate very much on influencing students before they make their options, so really at the 13/14 year gap before they actually go and choose languages or arts or whatever it may be. Students who are creative, who are quite language-orientated may actually be very good engineering people, so what we try and do is give them an experience of what engineering is all about. One of the keys to our success is actually linking very closely with university faculties and with engineering-led organisations to deliver the four-day residential courses.
Q220 Chairman: How do you know you are successful, how do you know where to put your efforts? It is a huge area.
Mrs Murphy: Absolutely, engineering is massive, we all know that, and what we try and do is run a number of different courses that reflect the nature of engineering, so we have subjects that cover nanotechnology, marine technology, biomedical engineering, design and manufacture, mobile communications, super-computing - we have a whole array of different courses and really from our perspective we are simply limited by funding. At the moment now we have about 32 courses a year which are heavily over-subscribed. The demand we find is out there, we have got the marketing in place which satisfies, which the students like, they sign up to our courses. 40 per cent attend more than one course a year, 67 per cent have said that going on a Smallpeice Trust residential course has influenced them to go into engineering as a career. With regards to females, almost 40 per cent of students on our courses are females and on the aim higher and the widening participation courses that is nearer to the 60/70 per cent mark.
Q221 Chairman: Terry, we will close down WISE and we will put all the money to Smallpeice, would that be okay? How do you decide where you are going to put your efforts? Where is your intelligence, where is your research base to say this is our next programme?
Ms Marsh: You have hit the nail on the head. If you were to ask me what the Government should be doing now, I have been told in the past there is plenty of research, we are drowning in research, but actually we are swimming in polluted waters, we do not have good solid evidence as to what it is that is affecting girls and their decisions in life. Is it their peers, is it the media, is it their parents, is it teachers? If we could actually do a really nice piece of snapshot research, followed by longitudinal research, the snapshot would perhaps go year 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13, just get a snapshot of where boys and girls are at the moment, what they think about their future and what they think about subjects. Two years later do it again and, actually, you will start to see what is happening and you are starting to track how these decisions are made; they are not made by a flick of the switch in Year 9. I absolutely take on board that people are really motivated, but actually they may decide to study but they then may drop out, they may decide to stick with physics but then they do not do that when they go to university, or they do BEng at university and then drop out. Let us follow them, let us work out what is going on, we do not know sufficiently.
Q222 Chairman: Francis, is this the job of government or is this the job of industry to do this really detailed research so we can properly plan provision?
Mr Evans: If it is research in order to inform central provision then I would say that is the role of government because it is government that had got that central co-ordinating role. Industry would certainly wish to research the effectiveness of the activities in which it would invest and so, for example, Gemma has described the kind of research that Smallpeice does and that is recognised by industry as a very high quality provision and indeed many companies invest in it.
Q223 Chairman: Should industry be doing more or are you happy that this is a government problem of actually producing the generic material in order to create tomorrow's engineers?
Ms Langford: I do not think there is a sufficiently co-ordinated approach and in some of the previous evidence you heard there was this issue that actually everybody has their own take on it and it is not really sufficiently co-ordinated.
Q224 Chairman: Who should be doing it?
Ms Langford: Terry makes a very interesting point that there is this great plethora of stuff out there but nobody has actually ever produced any real workable, consistent evidence. It is also important to remember that actually with engineering, almost differently from many careers, it does have this problem about perception, about stereotypes and those sorts of things which have been extremely hard to crack for a long time. Also, young people today are bombarded with all these other different images and in fact we quote a couple of statistics: apparently, if you ask a group of teenagers to name the most famous engineer in Britain the majority of them will talk about Kevin Webster who is a car mechanic on Coronation Street.
Q225 Dr Iddon: A very good one.
Ms Langford: I am sure he is a very good one, but that apparently is a common perception amongst young people. Equally, I am told that they did a study in the North East a while ago and asked young people how they thought they would make their fortunes, and something like 14 per cent of them said it would be through a reality television programme. Statistically it is something like 50 million to one that you will actually succeed that way, which is four times the lottery, I believe, so there we are. There is this lack of somebody actually grabbing hold of this and really taking responsibility for it.
Q226 Chairman: There is a long period of time, is there not, between the work that Gemma is doing with Year 9 students, actually getting them to recognise the excitement of engineering, and what Philip Greenish talks about in terms of chartered engineers who are members of the Academy; it is a long, long process.
Ms Langford: Absolutely.
Q227 Chairman: Do we feel that we have put down enough roots at the moment that in ten years time or 15 years time there will be a lot of flowers blooming within the engineering world? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
Ms Langford: I am optimistic because in the previous evidence they did talk about the stem report and in the last three years in particular both DIUSS and DCSF have grabbed hold of this in a much more coherent fashion and they have produced the STEM report, they have appointed John Holman as the national STEM director, they are putting more emphasis into it now and the National Science Learning Centres are also going to have a National STEM Centre so they are recognising the importance of teaching engineering within that and the importance of demonstrating that engineering is the appliance of science. They have let two contracts now for careers work to Sheffield Hallam University and Warwick University to actually start building what they call a timeline with young people at different stages; they are going to start with Key Stage 3 but they are going to say how can we make sure that during those children's education between 11 and 14 they are exposed to specific, very well designed interventions that make them see that that thing you just learned, this is how it looks in the real world, this is the excitement that you can actually see.
Q228 Dr Iddon: I just want to focus on co-ordination a little more. Francis, in your evidence you reckon that there could be much more co-ordination; would you just like to expand upon that and how do you guys get together for a start, how do the different organisations who are involved in extending participation get together?
Mr Evans: We would typically get together around a specific task where we have a common aim and, going back to the earlier evidence where the question was asked what could government do to bring about the Nirvana of a more united action, it seems to me that rather than starting with getting people to merge or getting people to work together, if you start with a job that they need to do, where they need to collaborate in order to achieve it, that tends to be a more effective way because it also takes your mind perhaps from all the organisational issues towards the job in hand. For example, if we take the annual Festival of Engineering at Rockingham Motor Speedway that the Learning Grid runs each year, we are working with STEMNET, in particular their regional director in that part of the world, with the Smallpeice Trust and their colleagues who are providing activities to deliver a project that hopefully will give between 2000 and 3000 children a great time learning about engineering.
Q229 Dr Iddon: This is a question of course to all, would it not be better if there was an umbrella organisation like EXCITE! which has been recently formed to co-ordinate the work of science centres; would it not be better if we had a body like that? Pat, you mentioned DIUSS as a helpful co-ordinating body, so the first question is should there be a co-ordinating body and the second question is who should do that co-ordination?
Ms Langford: You have already heard from Philip Greenish that the shape of the future is pulling together a whole collection of different initiatives that are all successful in their own ways; how they are successful as they move on, of course, is another question, and are we able to track the success into the future life of youngsters, so there are umbrella opportunities as it were for us all, we get together under the STM programme, we get together with DIUSS, we get together under Shape the Future, so we are always talking to each other.
Q230 Dr Iddon: The message is coming over, Terry, that that is not good enough, it could be better.
Ms Marsh: If you are saying to me is there a strategy, you have hit the nail on the head: there is no strategy.
Q231 Dr Iddon: Who should develop the strategy, who should be responsible for getting hold of it, plotting it and bringing you all together under it?
Ms Marsh: As an evidence base is built up via the research that I was speaking about earlier if you are tying in with the STEM programme, which is gradually pulling together - we are in danger of doing housekeeping, we are desperately tidying at the risk of losing our destination which is why are we tidying, why are we doing all of this, what is the strategy for the future if we could start from scratch. Perhaps it is right to have fewer initiatives, I am not quite sure what the argument is for that, if people just feel comfortable with smaller numbers, but actually why are we doing this I think is a really important point and I really feel confident that under John Holman we are starting to think more than that housekeeping approach, we are starting to think about the future.
Ian Stewart: Going back to Brian's question, who should co-ordinate all this, who should set the strategy and drive it forward?
Q232 Chairman: In answering that question do you feel that there is a need to co-ordinate all the organisations, Gemma?
Mrs Murphy: From Smallpeice's perspective, do we have enough demand for our courses? Yes. Could we run additional courses? Absolutely, if we had money. The demand, therefore, and the interest from the students is certainly there but in terms of clarity and how we communicate that to teachers, is there something that we could do to make it a little bit easier then I suspect the answer would be yes, absolutely.
Q233 Dr Iddon: Gemma, you measure the success of all your activities which I applaud; how do you measure the success of what you are actually doing as a trust?
Mrs Murphy: Our trust is all about activities and deliverables.
Q234 Dr Iddon: If you did not exist would there be any ripples on the surface?
Mrs Murphy: I think that is very difficult to say, is it not? What we do know is that what we provide as the Smallpeice Trust does influence some students, but nevertheless that student will have a multitude of different external factors which will influence that student along the way, and it is very difficult, actually impossible, to isolate it and say actually, thanks to the Smallpeice Trust you have become an engineer.
Q235 Dr Iddon: I have mentioned DIUSS already; do you think they should have much more of a co-ordinating role with all the voluntary activities that you are engaged in?
Ms Langford: It is a difficult one because the minute you start talking about co-ordination and co-operation, those words can be interpreted in so many different ways and there is always a risk that the minute you start trying to impose that sort of - let us use another C word which is control - you start to lose yet another one which is creativity. We are becoming much more mature about working together in a way that actually focuses on who are the important people here? It is UK Plc because we have the gap in skills but on the other side it is the young people and their teachers with whom we need to work because they are our customers as well, so my sense of having been in this game for the last three or four years is that people are actually starting to become much more collaborative. A good example is the DCSF decided to set up the after school science and engineering clubs; they fund those and we, STEMNET, act as the principal co-ordinating project management for that but we work very closely with a number of partners and it is done on a very equitable basis, that everybody has a specific role, everybody has a cut of the cake if you like, but everybody knows exactly what they are going to do and, as a project, it works extremely successfully; the schools are given the money and the schools are told about organisations like Francis's and the Smallpeice Trust, that they can then be encouraged to get involved with them, so it is a self-referencing model, if you like. I am slightly wary, there is to some extent still a lack of co-ordination but a number of people have tried to think about what that might look like and have backed away because ---
Q236 Chairman: You might lose more than you gain.
Ms Langford: Yes, possibly.
Mr Evans: I would just make the point that the majority of these organisations, certainly including Smallpeice, rely on either charitable donations - in the Smallpeice Trust as you may know it was the legacy of Dr Cosby Smallpeice, the founder - or industrial contributions that are currently continuing. Where government is providing a very small fraction of the overall funding, it is rather hard then for it to play a co-ordinating role because people will say we have our own criteria and our own aims for these funds, we are volunteers or trustees, whatever it might be, and I very much agree with Pat that collaboration is a better way forward where you can find a mutual interest, unless government were to say here is a very large carrot, if you collaborate this is the prize that you can win and then you might have a chance.
Q237 Dr Iddon: Terry, 25 years of WISE; have you made an impact, do you think, are there more women in engineering now than when you started?
Ms Marsh: There are double the number studying engineering, yes, 15 per cent, but as I said we have hit the barriers, we have won the quick wins, but I would like to actually move slightly away to the difference between having a government strategy and having government control. We are begging the question of whether initiatives into school that come and go are good things. We would all agree that they are 'good things', but how do they measure up against a number of other good things that are going to do good work to get the outcome, which is that we are going to build the UK into an engineering force for the future, so it is one of many things. What are the other things and what is the strategy for prioritising all those other things as well. Take for instance Ofcom; right now it is doing a public consultation on public service broadcasting; we would not necessarily think of it straightaway, but where is the Tomorrow's World inspiring all the kids that used to be there and is not there any more, can the BBC justify its billions when it is not actually providing a popular science programme or engineering programme to attract young people in. Let us look at what the strategy is across the piece. In fact, I would say Channel Five is doing probably the best for engineering at the moment, I have seen three different types of engineering programmes on Channel Five in the last month - Big, Bigger, Biggest being the one that I enjoyed most; I do not know whether other people saw that, but it was excellent.
Dr Iddon: One last question, do you think you are trying to deal with too many engineering institutions, is that a problem for your organisation?
Q238 Chairman: Can you give us a very brief answer?
Ms Marsh: It is not a problem for us, we have our minds set elsewhere.
Q239 Ian Stewart: Do you relate to the institutions?
Ms Marsh: Yes, they can be very supportive at times.
Mrs Murphy: We get some funding as well from the institutions so we are appreciative of their work.
Q240 Dr Iddon: Nobody is going to bite the hand that feeds them.
Mr Evans: We do not get money from them. In fact, we fund a particularly good activity called Formula Student run by the IMechE; I have to say I do not find it a problem having so many because where they need to work together increasingly they are doing so quite well and so they can act as one where they need to has been my experience.
Ms Marsh: Where there is public funding, if I might just say, we have to remember that there is the whole gender duty in place now where you have actually got to set and implement objectives and gather information about the progress and the gender impact of where that public money is going, and we would very strongly encourage any of the organisations that are working in this field to examine the gender impact of what they do by looking at their gender duty requirements.
Q241 Dr Iddon: Pat, is it a problem for you?
Ms Langford: Not at all. We actually have memoranda of understanding with several of the institution; given that engineering is such a fantastically wide area it is not surprising that there are so many institutions working in the field. It keeps up the variety and the diversity which then again makes it more attractive to young people.
Q242 Mr Cawsey: I want to move on to the promotion of engineering. Gemma, the Smallpeice Trust raised concerns that most public funding for the promotion of engineering appears to be allocated to institutions and other organisations who act indirectly rather than directly. Would you like to explain to us what you mean by that differentiation between directly and indirectly?
Mrs Murphy: When I say directly I mean that we are a major deliverer of STEM activities, we interface directly with schools and with students so we know whether we add value by our existence in its own right and by what we deliver, so we are looking at attracting more funding to do more of what we do. It is as simple as that; we have a formula that we know works, we have got now, for instance, a situation with a nuclear engineering course where we have 106 students that we have had to turn away because the course, unfortunately, is oversubscribed and it filled up within three days. Our dilemma really is we know what we are doing is working and we just want to expand and roll this out even more widely.
Q243 Mr Cawsey: What do you mean by indirectly then?
Mrs Murphy: Indirectly would be through some of the organisations that are here today, so through STEMNET or some of the institutions.
Q244 Mr Cawsey: What is the difference then?
Mrs Murphy: Some of the institutions do not actually deliver and promote STEM activities to students whereas we are a major deliverer.
Q245 Mr Cawsey: Is it simply that you are actually with the young people, doing things with them, whereas they are just promoting it as an activity?
Mrs Murphy: Yes, that is right, we give them a real learning experience.
Q246 Chairman: In your answer to Dr Iddon earlier you said you do not know whether in fact you are successful or not. The only criteria for success are the number of people who come on your courses and the number on the waiting list; they might get absolutely nothing out of it other than a nice time.
Mrs Murphy: That is true, but what we do is we do have a survey that goes out to every single student who attends one of our courses and 67 per cent said that attending a Smallpeice course has influenced them to consider a career in engineering. We are also looking at making enhancements to our database to further monitor and track our students post the age of 18.
Chairman: It was worth you putting that on the record, was it not?
Q247 Mr Cawsey: Although they still have to make the final leap and actually do it. This is wider than just you, Gemma, so anyone else who wants to join in, please do so. What evidence is there that actually a direct approach as opposed to an indirect approach makes a difference to the outcomes in the end?
Ms Marsh: This is a wonderful example of the complexity of the system that we are working in. If we are talking about engineers, let us take an engineer's approach to this and actually try and analyse what the levers are and what it is that is cause and effect. At the same time we know probably we have got to the stage in the development of engineering where we might need some disruptive technology to come in and might need to do things a little bit differently, so to actually monitor what we are doing at the moment, let us set in place some agreed standards of perhaps going back to kids a year later, two years later, five years later maybe to see whether interventions have had effect and, at the same time, that would be interventions not only from those people going in and out of school but interventions in terms of what schools are doing and the amount of effort that they put in. But at the same time as doing that we have just got to start thinking differently; we have to change sufficiently to know that we have to change, you cannot just change overnight, you have to change sufficiently to know that we need some better change, we need to think more creatively about this, because just keeping on doing the same old thing is getting us the same results which might be incremental, but that is something that STEMNET would say and they have completely changed how they are going about things, they are doing much more quality control et cetera.
Ms Langford: Wherever it is possible to do so. The whole issue of effective evaluation is a very tricky one because to really evaluate the impact, particularly on young people, you need to do a ten-year study. That is extremely expensive and I have not yet come across anybody who has put their hand up and said they would like to pay for that so we are always going to be in this business of to some extent doing what we believe to be the right thing. We get tons of anecdotal evidence; with the science and engineering ambassadors programme we are awash with quotations from schools saying this is great, I have seen the young children change markedly, but we cannot then tag those young people and say what happens five years on, so we kind of have the happy sheet situation, yes I had a great time, it was brilliant, we built the car, we raced it, it was a lot of fun. Whether or not that actually changed their mind about engineering is a whole different thing and it is going to be a perennial problem until somebody says here, there are millions of pounds to evaluate what difference some of these things really do make.
Ms Marsh: Careers Wales in Cardiff is actually tracking what courses the youngsters go on. It has just started doing that and it has got money from the Welsh Assembly Government to make sure that there is some sort of looking at outcomes, but it is the beginning of a long road and we know that the youngster going into school today, from my perspective, full of the gender stereotypes aged five, how we can influence that little girl who has got lots of pink marketing bows in her hair in terms of what happens when she is 25 and established in the engineering community is a long project. We throw down the gauntlet as it were to government to fund something that looks at that sort of thing.
Q248 Chairman: We have taken that on board.
Mr Evans: The industry representatives who initially set up the Learning Grid decided to ask for the funds to be allocated in the way that Gemma has described, to direct delivery rather than indirect, for two reasons. One is they believed that engineering is an applied science, so when you do it you understand it and the kind of skills that they are after are best acquired by actually doing something, so on a Smallpeice four-day course, for instance, the youngsters actually do practical projects with industry, they are making and designing and refining their projects. The second reason was that in employing young graduate engineers they often found that, for example, the formula student programme that I mentioned previously made a big impact on the capabilities of those engineers, not necessarily technically but their ability to work in teams, to communicate, to present, which are all skills that industry really values. As one of the customers for all of this, I guess they were convinced that Gemma's point is right, that spending money on direct work with kids, actually doing things in schools, is where the investment should go.
Q249 Mr Cawsey: It strikes me from the answers of all of you really that the missing link in all of that is that you all have your ideas and theories as to why that might be the case, but no one has actually done a rigorous analysis on whether any of it is true.
Mr Evans: For the reasons that Pat said to track someone over several years is not something that, as small voluntary organisations, we have the capability to do. It is probably just as well that you cannot track people in that way, it is a rather forbidding thought.
Q250 Mr Cawsey: As far as this Committee is concerned, if we wanted to make a recommendation on this area at all should we be saying that it should be more direct ipso facto less indirect, or should we be saying actually somebody in the department needs to do some serious and credible work on this to make better longer term funding decisions, whether that ends up being directly or indirectly. Which of those two do you think?
Ms Marsh: You are going to be able to go straight to market, which is what you are doing, you are going straight to the consumer; you cannot hit the whole cohort of 700,000 or 800,000 so you are always going to have a minor impact, but if you are thinking strategically you are perhaps learning some basic truths that are going to support what you are doing and actually encourage you to be doing and getting more of that effectively perhaps. You are going to have a longitudinal bit of research, which is great, but if you also do the snapshot through all the years for year 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 or whatever, you get early information because although they are not the same kids that are going through you start to get information on what is happening at each of those stages in life. The first one would be a snapshot and then you would move on and do that longitudinally and start to build up a real matrix of understanding of what is going on.
Q251 Dr Turner: I would like to ask all of you how serious a problem do you think for engineering is diversity or rather the lack of diversity, both in terms of gender and ethnicity?
Mrs Murphy: Very serious, and that is something that the Smallpeice Trust is actively supporting at the moment. We are running a number of residential courses as part of the London Engineering Project which are specifically focused on attracting ethnic minority groups and females into the engineering sector. We are also working with Aim Higher Nottinghamshire to deliver a residential course based on widening participation, so it is an issue and it is something that we are trying to address.
Ms Marsh: The current culture with engineering has corporate and cultural norms that are essentially male. If you think of the analogy that I might say about what it feels like to be a woman in engineering, it is like walking in high heels across cobbles. Some people in this room will understand what I mean but an awful lot of you will not understand what I mean, and that is a really good example of how we come from different cultures and how the culture of having a variety of different people with a variety of backgrounds - some of you walk in heels and some of you do not, I make a trivial point - makes a broad and creative difference, quite apart from the sheer demographic necessity that if you do not go for some women and some of the non-traditional people coming into the arena the demographic turndown of 12 per cent over the next 10 or 15 years is going to hit engineering really hard at a time when engineering is stepping up and making more and more impact on our daily lives.
Ms Langford: I agree absolutely with everything that Terry says. There is a perception out there in the same way that there is about other stereotypes that engineering is not well-paid, but in actual fact many jobs in the engineering and manufacturing sectors are extremely well-paid. Some of you may have seen Sir John Rose from Rolls Royce the other day talking about this, and he said the difference between manufacturing and engineering is that a much higher proportion of jobs tend to be reasonably well-paid whereas if you look at service industries you will often have a very, very wide dichotomy of people who are extremely wealthy and those who are being really lowly paid. The point I would make is if these jobs are well-paid why should they be denied 50 per cent of the population? That is a key point. I am very encouraged by the fact - and Philip Greenish talked about this as well - that the community now recognises that it is important to work with a much broader spread of people on this, and that includes a much broader spread of schools. There has been a tendency in the past to work with those schools that are the most easy to work with, where the perception at least is that they are the most easy to work with, but you actually will get the most rewarding results if you work with a very different cohort of schools. The only other point I would say, and I think it echoes what Terry says, is that any team works best if it is made up of a very creative, different and diverse number of people. All the best teams on which I have worked in the public and private sector have been very, very diverse indeed and any engineering project by its very nature these days is immensely complicated and requires very different input and very different kinds of people; you will get those drawn from all different parts of the population, so it is absolutely vital that we do take this particular issue very seriously. Terry has quoted the statistics about the doubling of numbers of women going into engineering courses but it is still only 14 or 15 per cent; it is not good enough.
Chairman: Could I ask you all to be very brief because we are very tight on time.
Q252 Dr Turner: We will pass on asking Francis the point on white middle class males.
Mr Evans: They are very eloquently made points so I will not add anything.
Q253 Dr Turner: Terry, you have praised the government for funding the UK Resource Centre for Women in SET but you equally lament the lack of a co-ordinated strategy; can you tell us what you think that strategy should look like?
Ms Marsh: I am for 19 and under so I am really pleased that 16 upwards is now being looked at and very well-co-ordinated by the UKRC where facts, figures and best practice is being spread. I feel that the equivalent does not exist for the under-19s and if you look at the ring-fenced money that government has for science, for every £999,990 spent on other things, £10 goes towards thinking about how to get more females through school and into engineering, so that is a very large difference and it means that nothing is being looked at from a more strategic perspective. Why do only seven per cent of girls who get an A* or an A in physics or double science go on to A-level whereas 26 per cent of boys do, what is happening all the way through? We do not know enough about it.
Q254 Dr Turner: There are problems with mixed gender activities. If you try to encourage engineering with enrichment activities in schools it fails to achieve a 50-50 participation of boys and girls and the girls participate rather less than the boys. Do you think this is general with mixed gender activities and what do you think can be done to promote girls especially as opposed to boys? Have you got any research backing that can help?
Ms Marsh: A number of initiatives are really pushing forwards to expect to get virtually equivalent participation. I was talking to a major engineering company recently about how they were trying to run their apprentice recruitment days and the schools just sent kids who were interested. I said "Why don't you tell the schools to send a good representative mix of their school?" and they said, "That would be different because you would probably get the same number of girls as boys" and suddenly they realised they would have a different recruitment scenario. Actually starting to push down the line and say to schools you offer up representative proportions of your schools to these initiatives I think would be a really interesting approach to take.
Q255 Dr Turner: At the same time it is quite a common experiment across education where female participation is lamented as being limited to work on a girls-only basis; how do you reconcile this with the desire to get enrichment across the gender equality?
Ms Marsh: The girls-only courses are very useful when there are small proportions of girls in the mixed courses because if you are one of the ten per cent of girls in your school that are seen to be good at physics and maths, and then you go along to one of these courses and there are only two other girls there, then you feel peculiar, you do not feel it is the norm for a girl to be one of these, so if you went to an all-girls event you would feel that you were amongst peers. If you are going to a mixed course where the girls are being treated with the same respect as the boys and they are getting the same equitable outcomes - in other words they are getting the same sort of results following on from these courses as the boys did - then the girls-only might not be so important, but at the moment we are in a mixed economy.
Q256 Dr Turner: Focusing on women is obvious but do you think they should also make a lot more effort to reach out to other groups, other ethnic groups obviously. The problem with women obviously becomes even more acute if you look at the gender problems within ethnic groups, so do you think we should be making more effort there?
Ms Marsh: That is true. Pat made the point that some of the initiatives are going to the easy win schools and those schools that are up for everything and you need to be actually starting to go to schools that have not used you before. London Challenge publishes families of schools, let us look at a breakdown via families of schools of where your initiatives are going, are you all up in the top one, two, three families or are you down in the 26 and 27 families, so looking at the different types of schools you go into will automatically mean that you are starting to reach some of the more hard to reach kids, and those hard to reach kids are important, the Government is prioritising them at the moment.
Q257 Chairman: Can I just ask you finally, Pat, do you feel as far as your organisation is concerned that you place sufficient emphasis on looking at the groups that Des has been talking about in terms of women and particularly under-represented ethnic minority groups?
Ms Langford: I believe that we do.
Q258 Chairman: Are you required to do that as part of your grant?
Ms Langford: We are strongly encouraged to do so, shall we say that? We do not have any targets and we would resist having targets because therein lies the path to failure in many ways; however, we have just re-tendered all the contracts to manage the science and engineering ambassadors programme and within that our evaluation framework says it is important that you start to recruit people from different groups, and that means people from different economic backgrounds, people who work in careers from STEM as well as in STEM, make sure you are making strenuous efforts to recruit women across the piece, black minority ethnic, and it is something that we will have as part of our contract evaluation framework with the people, how are you managing to do this. We will hold their feet to the fire if you like to say we need to see a positive trend in there because there is huge untapped potential.
Q259 Chairman: From an employer's point of view, Francis, the Learning Grid, is this conscious criteria within the work you do?
Mr Evans: Certainly within the quality standard, the panel for which has a majority of teachers but also employers on it, it would be something we look at.
Q260 Chairman: You would look at but you are not actively doing.
Mr Evans: When I say we look at, if an organisation such as Smallpeice came and said will you accredit our activity, one of the questions would be what are you doing in this area and we would expect to see that they are taking active steps such as Gemma described earlier on. From that accreditation follows funding, so as Pat says we would hold their feet to the fire if they did not.
Q261 Chairman: The last word, Gemma, your organisation is very hot on this area. We have had their feet to the fire, I presume you are doing this.
Mrs Murphy: As a charity we work with students of all different abilities, gifted and talented and also those that are more practical and will probably go down the craftsmanship route. We work with students of all abilities and we do work especially hard with ethnic minority groups and females as well to get them into engineering.
Chairman: On that very positive note could I thank Terry Marsh, Gemma Murphy, Pat Langford and Francis Evans for being our witnesses; you have all been hot this afternoon. Thank you very much indeed.