Submission from SBAC
SBAC is the UK's national trade association
representing companies supplying civil air transport, aerospace
defence, security and space markets. Together with its regional
partners, SBAC represents over 2,600 companies, assisting
them in developing new business globally, facilitating innovation
and competitiveness and providing regulatory services in technical
standards and accreditation.
1. The SBAC welcomes the opportunity to respond
to the inquiry, "Putting science and engineering at the heart
of government policy".
2. Science and Engineering should be at
the heart of policy-making. SBAC supports the development of a
National Strategy for Science and Engineering to bring together
government, industry, academia and other stakeholders to devise
the best way to fund science and engineering for the benefit of
3. SBAC does not see a need for a separate Department
of Science at this time.
4. Current science and engineering policy
is at best patchy and there needs to be more emphasis on the benefits
that science and engineering bring to the UK.
5. Science and engineering research and
training is at the core of the aerospace industry's development;
as such our industry should be closely involved in the formulation
of science and engineering policy. The Aerospace Technology and
Skills Roadmaps should feed into these policies.
6. Early stage research in the aerospace
industry is primarily funded through the Government's Technology
Strategy Board. Successful consultation should reflect the needs
of industry and incorporate the industry's Aerospace Technology
and Skills Roadmaps.
7. SBAC's experience is that regional policies
can fragment national progress in research and we do not recommend
a regional science policy.
8. The Haldane principle should be updated
to acknowledge the role that industry plays in furthering research.
9. The role that science and engineering
play in the success of the UK economy is not understood by the
public. The successful recruitment drive to ensure that there
are more and better teachers of science and engineering, to capture
and harness early enthusiasm in the classroom should be continued.
10. SBAC believes that engineers should
be encouraged to obtain Chartered Engineer accreditation and that
this professional status needs to be more widely understood.
11. A National Science and Engineering Strategy
would bring together all stakeholders to determine science and
Should the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science and
Innovation and the Council for Science and Technology put science
and engineering at the heart of policy-making?
12. Science and Engineering go hand in hand
and should be at the heart of policy-making. Science and Engineering
will play an important part in solving the problems of the 21st
century such as global warming, reducing carbon emissions and
encouraging growth through innovation.
13. The aerospace industry is a highly attractive
and growing industrial sector. The UK has the largest aerospace
industry outside the US and is potentially well placed to exploit
further growth in the global marketplace. There are 9,000 supply
chain companies throughout the UK regions. In 2007 the industry
had a turnover of £20 billion and secured more than
£44 billion in new orders. The industry exports 62%
of all that it produces, contributing to a positive balance of
trade. Alongside pharmaceuticals, aerospace provides important
balance to the UK economy and sustains high value careers in design,
research and engineering.
14. The aerospace industry directly employs
113,318 people, 18,449 of whom are focused on Research
and Development activities. The sector employs 2,700 apprentices
and 39% of all employees hold a university degree or equivalent.
15. Investment in research and development
helps to sustain high-value jobs and increases the competitiveness
of UK companies. Aerospace companies that find more beneficial
research and development environments overseas are likely to move
their R&D to other countries, with the consequent jobs being
created outside the UK. Placing science and engineering at the
centre of policy-making is likely to encourage aerospace companies
to invest in the UK.
16. The UK aerospace industry is good at
identifying future business opportunities and where research and
development investment should be made to ensure that UK companies
are best placed to win work on future programmes. The New Short
Range aircraft is a significant opportunity for the industry and
will be the replacement 100 seat aircraft that comes on stream
in the next ten years. It is the focus for the development of
new technology and environmental improvement that will deliver
reductions in aircraft noise and gaseous emissions. It is a future
market worth $600 billion over the next 20 years and
is a major opportunity alongside Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, estimated
to be worth £1 billion and rotorcraft. In conjunction
with the government, the industry has identified the technology
that needs to be developed to enable UK companies to compete for
workshares on these programmes. These technology roadmaps define
the specific technologies that need to be developed and the timeline
for their development.
17. SBAC is currently building on this mapping
work through developing a skills map that aligns with these programmes.
This skills roadmap will define the needs of the industry according
to future programmes and will be an important tool for both government
and industry to invest in the right training programmes at the
Should there be a Department for Science?
18. The reorganisation of government departments
to create the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills
signalled a change in direction to give a greater emphasis to
innovation and industry. Separating skills from education has
recognised that skills continue to play an important role in the
UK economy and that knowledge should extend beyond the formal
19. Although SBAC welcomes the suggestion that
science should be important enough to have its own department,
we are concerned that creating a Department for Science is likely
to contribute to additional administrative expenditure and money
targeted at assessing science and engineering rather than supporting
or promoting it. SBAC does not feel that this would be an effective
use of government investment. Equally, if a Department for Science
were established, it would need to include Engineering to ensure
joined-up thinking about new technologies and to ensure that scientific
advances are developed into innovations that benefit the UK economy.
20. SBAC would however welcome the development
of a National Agenda and Strategy for Science and Engineering.
This would encourage all government departments associated with
science and engineering to work together to create outputs that
will deliver the innovation and technology programmes that are
required by the industries of the UK.
Comments on the way that Government formulates
science and engineering policy (strengths and weaknesses of the
21. SBAC believes that current science and
engineering policy is patchy and would benefit from greater emphasis
on the advantages that engineering brings to the UK economy. Government
should work with industry to provide a real opportunity to develop
a coherent and holistic policy.
22. Currently the many initiatives, themes and
programmes located around science and engineering are often forced
to fit the funding regime. This results in projects being developed
in ways to ensure that they are funded rather than developing
research programmes to fit the needs of industry. A National Strategy
for Science and Engineering would help to determine priority areas
for research and would then ensure that they are funded.
Should the views of the science and engineering
community be central to the formulation of government policy?
23. SBAC believes that the aerospace industry's
contribution to the UK economy, its position as the second largest
aerospace industry in the world and as an employer and exploiter
of the UK science and engineering capability means that the industry
is well placed to make a positive contribution to the Government's
policy on science and engineering.
24. The Aerospace Technology Roadmaps which define
the technology that needs to be collaboratively funded and developed
to ensure that the industry it is best placed to compete for work
on future programmes are mature. They provide an important basis
for informing decisions on civil aerospace collaborative research,
development and demonstration programmes. to maintain the UK
knowledge base and further lead to UK high value manufacturing.
25. Synergies between the National Aerospace
Technology Strategy and the Defence Technology Plan are being
sought to ensure effective and efficient utilisation of both government
and industry investments.
26. A Skills Roadmap is also being developed
by SBAC to determine the future skills needs of the aerospace
industry. SBAC believes that the Roadmaps are a significant contribution
that the aerospace industry is able to contribute to the formulation
of government policy.
How should the success of any consultation be
27. SBAC believes that the success of consultation
can be assessed in two ways. Successful consultation would result
in government policies that reflect the experience of the aerospace
industry and respond to the industry's needs. This would also
mean that the aerospace industry would have an understanding of
the reasoning behind policies that did not reflect their needs.
28. The Aerospace Technology Roadmaps and the
Aerospace Skills Roadmap are designed to create an effective demand
signal from the aerospace industry. Successful consultation would
refer to these Roadmaps and would incorporate the demand signal
into government policy.
Is there a case for a regional science policy
versus national science policy?
29. SBAC has received no pressure from member
companies or affiliated member trade associations making the case
for regional science policies. We believe that it is the role
of the Regional Development Agencies to emphasise their regional
needs within the context of national strategies.
30. There has been some concern from SBAC members
that the shift in funding from national initiatives such as the
Civil Aeronautics Research and Technology Demonstration (CARAD)
Programme to regional funding programmes has had an adverse effect,
resulting in increased administration costs and "internal"
competition between regions, both being detrimental to execution.
SBAC's members are concerned that regional funding regimes have
necessitated multiple applications in order to amass the funding
for a single programme. The process of large programme application
is currently taking on average 12 months of reiterative discussion
which in turn could jeopardise entire research programmes. SBAC
is a globally competitive industry and the complexity of applying
for support for research does affect UK competitiveness.
31. SBAC believes that there are advantages
to be gained from a National Agenda and Strategy for science and
engineering which builds upon the initiatives that have already
been developed in industry sectors such as aerospace. This should
be seen as a framework at a regional level in a similar fashion
to the regional implementation of the National Curriculum.
Does the Haldane principle need updating?
32. SBAC believes that the Haldane principle
does not acknowledge industry's contribution in leading and funding
research initiatives. We acknowledge that pure research is necessary
to advance scientific and engineering knowledge, and we also acknowledge
the role that this plays in the advancement of engineering technologies.
We believe that research, development and demonstration is best
shaped by collaboration of industry, government and academia and
that government and research council investments should be more
closely aligned to collaborative national strategies such as NATS.
33. We believe that a National Science and Engineering
Strategy would stimulate cohesion between the Research Councils,
Government and Industry. This would allow scientific and engineering
frontiers to be advanced without political interference and would
also be a mechanism to determine the funding and direction of
research for the benefit of the UK economy.
Engaging the public and increasing public confidence
in science and engineering policy
34. SBAC believes that the public are "put
off" by science and engineering and have little understanding
about the contribution that engineering continues to make to the
wealth and success of the UK.
35. There is a public perception that science
is hard and engineering is dirty. Clean rooms, light and airy
facilities with computer aided machines are now the norm and many
scientists and engineers spend much of their working time in offices
or at a computer.
36. Science and engineering is often down-graded
as "the techie bit". There are many "pseudo-science"
stories in the media, often focused on areas such as food and
medical scares, or purporting to have come up with a formula for
subjects such as the "perfect shower" or the "perfect
joke". These are reported without criticism and can lead
to misunderstandings. Genuine advances in science and/or engineering
are either reported sensationally or not reported at all.
37. A greater understanding of the importance
of science and engineering to the regeneration and sustainability
of our economy would also encourage more young people to enter
science and engineering careers. More funding should be directed
towards the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
and incentives should be provided to industry to encourage collaboration
with and support for local schools and colleges.
38. SBAC's work with children at primary
level shows that the wonder they express at space technology and
aeroplanes in flight can be lost in the classroom at secondary
level as the education process is often unrelated to the application
of science and engineering. SBAC welcomes the significant steps
that have been taken to address shortages of well-educated science
and maths teachers in schools through the "those who can,
teach" campaign, and proposes that similar campaigns should
be developed for prospective further education programmes. We
encourage the government to continue its recruitment drive to
ensure that children are receiving the most stimulating science
and maths teaching possible.
39. SBAC also welcomes the reintroduction
of separate science teaching into secondary education and sees
this as a positive step to enable the up-take of science subjects.
40. SBAC has also discovered that good,
enthusiastic teaching showing how scientific and engineering principles
can be applied to pupils' real life experience, results in more
students studying science and engineering at higher levels. Many
of our members are working with schools to deliver the Engineering
41. Engineering is perceived not to be well-paid
in comparison with highly lucrative occupations such as finance
and there is little understanding of what engineers do on a daily
basis. This leads to a lack of interest in pursuing a scientific
or engineering career.
42. There is an ongoing debate about the
professional status of engineers and in particular the use of
the word "engineer" in job titles for job roles such
as mechanics and heating systems installers. SBAC believes that
ensuring that scientists and engineers at all levels are registered
within an integrated and coordinated national framework based
on robust entry standards and relevant continuous professional
development, would improve the professional status of scientists
and engineers. Chartered Engineering status (CEng) should be more
widely publicised as a professional accreditation in the same
way as professions such as law and accountancy.
The role of GO-Science, DIUS and other Government
departments, charities, learned societies, Regional Development
Agencies, industry and other stakeholders in determining UK science
and engineering policy
43. SBAC believes that a National Science
and Engineering Strategy should bring all these stakeholders together
to determine science and engineering policy. SBAC is already working
closely with government, industry, research and technology organisations
and academia to create and develop the Technology Roadmaps and
the Skills Roadmap. We believe that the production of the Roadmaps
will set out the needs of industry and that these should contribute
to determining UK science and engineering policy.
44. SBAC believes that these stakeholders reflect
the wealth of scientific and engineering talent present throughout
the UK. Bringing these stakeholders together will advance science
and engineering policies to ensure that the UK remains at the
forefront of innovation.