Engineering: turning ideas into reality - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents


6  Overview and general conclusions

We need to rediscover the power of engineering, its impact and contribution. It can stimulate young minds and it can stimulate the economy.

James Dyson, founder of Dyson plc

Introduction

315.  During the course of this inquiry, we have become increasingly conscious of the critical contribution that engineering makes to the economy and societal well-being, and the decisive role it must play in tackling global challenges such as climate change, water and food supply, and energy security. Nuclear engineering, plastic electronics engineering and geo-engineering will play their part, but they make up only a tiny segment of the engineering sector. In this chapter, we broaden out the discussion and outline a number of recommendations that are applicable across the whole engineering sector.

Engineering skills and the formation of engineers

316.  In January 2009, the Government published the results of its consultation on STEM skills, The Demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Skills. The evidence the Government received was very similar to the evidence we received during the course of our inquiry (see Chapter 2). 11% of employers were experiencing some hard-to-fill vacancies, with the greatest difficulties in marine engineering (20%) and aerospace engineering (16%). Of those organisations with problems recruiting graduates, the biggest shortage was amongst mechanical engineers (43%), with electronics and electrical engineers also in short supply (27% and 22% respectively).[369]

317.  Training the next generation of engineers is always a national priority, but it takes on an element of urgency when there is a shortage. The economic downturn provides both a challenge—in terms of persuading people to train for a career that is clouded by media stories of severe job losses—and an opportunity—as a level of economic restructuring is inevitable as the country (and world) comes out of recession. Additionally, because the timescales involved in large engineering projects are so extensive, projects being planned now will be staffed by people who are currently in school. Therefore, to answer a simple question such as 'how can the UK solve engineering skills shortages?', one must consider the complex path by which a child becomes a professional engineer. The engineering profession call this process 'formation'.

FORMATION OF ENGINEERS

318.  The first step in the formation of engineers is in schooling. We have avoided detailed consideration of this stage, since it lies outside the Committee's core remit. However, much has been said on this subject—not least in our e-consultation for employers and young engineers—and the Government has been very supportive of STEM teaching in schools, which we applaud.

319.  The engineering community undertakes a range of activities to highlight the range of opportunities afforded by a career in engineering. We participated in one such event—The Big Bang[370]—and congratulate all the organisations that were involved in delivering this, and many other, engineering events, after schools clubs and activities. These include:

  • engineering clubs for young people (90% of which are in state schools);[371]
  • engineering challenges, for example: the Young Engineer for Britain Competition; the Royal Navy Challenge; the BAA Challenge; the Airbus Challenge; and the K'Nex Challenge (which in 2006/07 involved 93,000 students);[372]
  • programmes delivered by the Engineering Development Trust: Year in Industry (a year out before or during degree course); Headstart Courses (summer courses assisting informed choice regarding technology based degrees and careers); Engineering Education Scheme (links year 12 student teams with local companies to work on real problems over a 6 month period); and Go4SET (linking teams of year 9 pupils with companies and universities on a 10 week SET experience);[373]
  • the NOISE campaign: targets 11-19 year olds, and uses a range of early career researcher role models to promote STEM skills and careers;[374] and
  • Greenpower, which runs electric car races for schools, colleges, apprentices and youth groups to promote engineering and technology as careers.[375]

320.  Several of the young engineers we spoke to told us they were inspired to study engineering as they wanted to work on projects that addressed global challenges. They share this inspiration with Norman Haste, Chief Operating Officer of Laing O'Rourke, who told us:

It is really about creativity, it is about making a difference, it is about contributing to the future well-being […] of the Earth in general, because we have some really big problems worldwide.[376]

321.  One of the biggest global challenges we face today is climate change. In the future, geo-engineering technologies may play a role in climate change mitigation, and IMechE, among others,[377] has identified the potential for this sector to inspire young engineers: it recently ran an international competition in which teams of young engineers made technical assessments of the feasibility and sustainability of potential geo-engineering solutions. [378] A team from the Science and Technology Facilities Council at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire won for the design for an artificial tree.

322.  To get a feel for the impact of engineering competitions and activities on the aspirations of young people, we spoke to members of 'Young Engineers', an organisation that develops and manages a national network of extra-curricular engineering clubs in both the primary and secondary sectors. We greatly enjoyed meeting these promising young engineers, and were impressed with their enthusiasm. We were told by Oyenuga Abioye that "Engineers are creative people; they do imagine things and bring it to normal life",[379] a sound definition! We heard why engineering is important:

You get to achieve things in building, design and creation. Not just write your design on paper but to actually build it and say "Yes, I have achieved something; everybody enjoys my creation and anyone can use it". So, engineering is really for everyone.[380]

And we heard inspiring optimism:

Dr Gibson: When you are young, people often ask you that daft question, "What do you want to do when you grow up?" […] what do you say?

Josh Simpson: My answer is that I want to be an engineer; I want to create something; I want to change the world.[381]

323.  What set these young engineers apart from their peers, is that they had the opportunity to experience engineering at a young age, coupled with good career advice. The young engineers we interviewed felt that the latter is particularly important:

David Lakin: Careers advisers and teachers do not necessarily push kids into engineering, mainly because they do not have the right perception of engineering themselves. Those who have an interest in engineering, science and maths, it then gets wasted because they get pushed into other areas.[382]

Chris Martin: … sciences are taught by science teachers who have done science degrees, there is no one who has actually done engineering because they are all working in practice. So students are not made aware that this whole career is out there.[383]

Le'val Haughton-James: At GSCE level, I did double science and IT, but I dropped technology because I was not interested in it in school, but it gives you that introduction to the skill which you can take on and then expand further. In school, they do not relate it to engineering so you do not realise you are doing engineering until you hear about it from somewhere else.[384]

324.  We were greatly impressed by the high quality and wide-ranging work to give young people experience of engineering. We are supportive of all efforts to make young people aware of the rewarding and challenging nature of a career in engineering. While we would not advocate that geo-engineering be championed as a research field above any other, we believe that it might have the 'X-factor' when it comes to alerting young people to global engineering challenges and we welcome its inclusion in engineering events. We are concerned, however, that engineering is not always promoted as a worthwhile, challenging and exciting career option, and advocate that it feature more prominently in the provision of careers advice at schools.

325.  Following school, students can pursue professionalism through two main routes: further education and higher education. Further education is particularly important, and in Chapter 2 we noted our support for the employer-led Skills Academies that are working in this area. The Government has also invested in revitalising apprenticeships in the UK, an issue we dealt with in detail in our reports Pre-legislative Scrutiny of the draft Apprenticeships Bill[385] and Re-skilling for recovery: After Leitch, Implementing skills and training policies.[386] We do not expand on those reports here.

Higher skills

326.  During the Chairman's visits to Imperial College London and UKAEA Culham in September 2008, concern was expressed at the shortage of high calibre UK applicants for post-graduate research positions, and at the overall shortage of suitably qualified applicants for PhD studentships in physics and materials disciplines.

327.  A facet of research common to plastic electronics, geo-engineering and the nuclear industry is its multidisciplinary nature. For example, geo-engineering research requires knowledge of atmospheric chemistry and physics, climate systems and marine sciences to name but a few of the disciplines involved,[387] and plastic electronics research teams comprise a whole range of experts from "narrow specialists that typically work on materials, to generalists, to systems people".[388] The message we received throughout these case studies was that general engineering expertise was important to employers—who expect to put new recruits through further training—rather than the formation of specialised workers. For example, in respect to food manufacturing, Richard Midgley told us:

I think we are looking, clearly, for people of high academic calibre but, also, with that […] "native curiosity and energy" and so on. When we put people into technical jobs in Unilever, we cannot expect that there will be some University College London department of margarine making. [389]

328.  The importance of 'native curiosity' in prospective employees was also underlined by Richard Archer, who told us that when he was recruiting medical engineers:

What I wanted were guys who were immensely curious about what was going on, with a fire in their belly and a twinkle in their eye, and whether they were called a chemical engineer or a mechanical engineer did not really matter because you could turn them loose on things and they had big brains and off they went. [390]

329.  Despite the undoubted importance of general engineering skills, it is unquestionable that some industrial sectors require highly specialised engineers. Plastic electronics is an example of one such industry. Rather than the development of a plastic electronics degree programme, submissions to this case study called for increased investment in post-graduate training to better support the industry,[391] and organisations such as Plastic Logic called for the development of a plastic electronics conversion course:

I think it would be very interesting to see an emergence of a plastic electronics conversion course at some kind of UK institution that could take guys who were basically electronics engineers in yesterday's technology and make them electronic engineers in tomorrow's technology. There is a very nice precedent in the UK DisplayMasters programme[392] which does something like that and I think that would be very, very helpful.[393]

330.  In identifying those areas of engineering that would most benefit from the introduction of specialised training courses, it is important that the Government take into account the engineering needs of the future in addition to those of the present, including competition between sectors. For example, a commitment by Government to invest in renewing/upgrading the nation's infrastructure as part of a fiscal stimulus package would have implications for the number and 'cadre' of engineers required. Without any horizon-scanning, a significant time-lag would undoubtedly arise between the point at which the Government commits to embarking on a project and the point at which the UK can provide a workforce with the requisite skills to deliver it.

331.  In assessing the UK's engineering skills needs, it is important that the Government should not 'navel gaze' but keep one eye on the competition. Monitoring the extent to which the activities of other nation states are likely to compete for the indigenous skills base is particularly important in the current economic climate. For example, the $787 billion US economic stimulus package will create opportunities for engineers to work on projects including upgrading the electric grid ($11 billion), kick-starting the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy ($400 million), battery research ($2 billion) and proposes $1 billion be given to NASA ($400 million of which could be spent on rocket development).[394] These opportunities are unlikely to appeal only to the US's domestic engineering population.

332.  The key to solving sector-specific shortages of engineers will ultimately lie in the UK's ability to train the next generation of generalist engineers, who will then specialise after university. Plastics electronics is one example of an industry that would benefit from the introduction of post-graduate programmes that offered generalist engineers specialised training. We recommend that EPSRC engage with industry to assess the potential for establishing a range of conversion courses according to need across the engineering sector to upskill generalist engineers.

Management training

333.  The technical and theoretical knowledge of an engineer is only part of his or her arsenal. Another is management skills, which we heard from several sources are often lacking in recruits from university. For example, in evidence to the plastic electronics case study, Stuart Evans from Plastic Logic made a plea for the inclusion of management training in post-graduate education:

I want young scientists to know how to supervise people, how to write project reports, and how to do some of the basic blocking and tackling that represents the move from being a fantastic professional to being a young manager and then to be a great leader. So whether you do it in under-graduate degrees, I am not certain that is relevant; it is definitely relevant in post-graduate qualifications.[395]

334.  Lord Drayson also highlighted the value of management experience to early career academics with a desire to set-up a spin-out company.

We have seen very effective models for spin-out companies where it has been a professor and a post-doc. The professor has worked with the post-doc to create new intellectual property [… and] the post-doc has then transferred to be the first managing director of the spin-out company […]. You have to have that central focus for the science first and then train the management experience on top of it.[396]

335.  We do not consider it is necessary to wait until individuals are engaged in post-doctoral research before introducing them to management skills. Indeed, giving evidence as part of our Engineering in Government case study, Professor David Fisk, Imperial College London, highlighted the advantages of French engineering degrees in terms of management education:

I would score France up very high in the sense that its basic engineering education is far superior to the UK. People leave French engineering schools able to run companies the day they leave, not absolutely packed with five years learning of technology.[397]

336.  Although concern was expressed over the availability of management skills in the graduate population, we recognise that steps are being taken to rectify this through, for example, EPSRC's Engineering Doctorate (EngD) programme. This PhD-level programme operates at academic centres that recruit a group of research engineers to work within a research area and industrial sector. Open to graduates in any branch of engineering (or other relevant discipline), EngD students are expected to spend around 75% of their time working directly with their collaborating company. Packages of training courses are tailored to their needs in order to develop management skills, as well as specialist technical subjects. Projects are designed jointly by the academics and the co-operating company.[398]

337.  We believe there to be value in incorporating management skills in post-graduate masters and doctoral programmes. We recommend that HEFCE, EPSRC, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the professional institutions co-ordinate to advise on best-practice in the delivery of this training by higher and further education institutes.

Diversity

338.  Diversity is a major problem in engineering. Only 2% of engineering apprentices are female and only 4% are black or an ethnic minority (BME).[399] And in universities, the proportion of engineering graduates who are female is low: in 2006/07 it stood at 14.3%, compared with 60.5% for other subjects.[400] It is not a problem of differential ability: girls across all ethnic groups generally outperform boys at science GCSE and A Level.[401] Rather, it is more likely to do with cultural issues, such as peer pressure and career advice at school and work-life balances in the job.[402] The Women's Engineering Society has suggested that action should be taken to address the long hours and family unfriendly work cultures that contribute to the 'leaky pipeline' for women engineers, particularly those with children and caring responsibilities.[403] And the WISE Campaign (Women into Science, Engineering and Construction) has suggested that there should be more girls-only enhancement and enrichment activities, and those that are mixed gender should be 50:50 boys and girls—it cites the London Engineering Project as evidence that such aims are feasible.[404]

339.  Work in this area is carried out by a range of organisations, including the WISE Campaign, the Smallpeice Trust, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEMNET) and the Learning Grid. The Engineering and Technology Board says that there are too many independent initiatives:

Greater effective coordination is needed on the multiplicity of promotional and awareness-raising activities that are currently undertaken by a wide range of public, private and professional organisations. While many of these interventions and initiatives are excellent and have national coverage, better coordination would maximise impact and improve the consistency of messaging.[405]

340.  However, the Learning Grid, which is an organisation that promotes engineering to students and teachers, has countered that:

Our experience leads us to treat with caution the frequently-expressed view that there are too many initiatives, that this is unhelpful and confusing and that consolidation should be the first objective. The diversity and dynamism of engineering-related initiatives is an opportunity not a threat.[406]

341.  Whoever is correct, three things are certain. First, an attempt to rationalise efforts is already underway: Shape the Future aims to bring coherence to the many SET schemes that focus on 10-14 year olds, increasing their impact and effectiveness. It was started by the Royal Academy of Engineering but is owned by the whole science and engineering community. This is a worthwhile project, and support for it should continue. Second, some improvements have been made. For example, the number of female students in engineering increased from 13.1% in 2002/03 to 13.7% in 2005/6;[407] the percentage of female professional engineers increased from 5.3% in 2005 to 6.2% in 2007;[408] and last year 40% of employers reported that they believed the number of female candidates was increasing.[409] Third, however, where improvements have been made, they have been small, and much more needs to be done. To begin with, if 40% of employers think the number of female candidates is increasing, the implication is that 60% do not see such a pattern. Further, where improvements exist they have been small because the baseline is so low: only 5% of engineers, 5% of technicians and 7% of IT professionals are women.[410]

342.  In order that initiatives to broaden the diversity profile of the engineering sector impact positively on recruitment and retention, it is essential that they are founded on an understanding of the factors that affect the career choices of under-represented groups and effectiveness of different interventions. This point was underlined by Philip Greenish, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering: "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".[411]

343.  Efforts have been made by organisations such as the Smallpeice Trust to establish an evidence base on which to build widening participation initiatives. However, Pat Langford from STEMNET told us that these efforts have not been sufficiently co-ordinated and that while "there is this great plethora of stuff out there but nobody has actually ever produced any real workable, consistent evidence". A point also made by Terry Marsh, WISE:

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 […] you [… would] start to see what is happening and […] how these decisions are made.[412]

344.  We asked Francis Evans (Learning Grid) whether responsibility for conducting detailed research of this kind lay with industry or the Government. His clear view was that, as a central co-ordinating body, it was the role of government.[413] We agree with this view.

345.  We support the Government's efforts to promote diversity in engineering. Its financial support for STEMNET and the Science and Engineering Ambassadors programme, WISE, the Computer Club for Girls, and the work of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Engineering Development Trust is welcome and should continue.

346.  We are concerned that evidence is lacking on the factors that affect the career choices of women and other under-represented groups. We recommend that DIUS commission research to examine these factors. This evidence should then be used as a platform from which to develop and target widening participation initiatives.

The perception of engineers

347.  Whatever the historical reasons or causation, engineers in the UK have a lower status than their peers elsewhere in the world, for example in China, Japan, Germany or France. This was elegantly brought home to us when we were reminded that: "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".[414]

348.  We agree with an unnamed member of the Engineering and Machinery Alliance who wrote:

In Germany an engineer is a revered person. He can only be called an engineer providing he/she is suitably university qualified. In England we have many levels of engineer ranging from the university graduate to the Corgi gas fitter! We seem ashamed to refer to trades people and must disguise their trade with the term engineer. Sadly as a nation we have far too few qualified trades people whether it be in manufacturing or building trades. It seems unless you have been to university and have a degree you are deemed to be a failure, which of course is absolute nonsense.[415]

349.  During our visit to China and Japan, we were struck by the respect held for British engineers and UK engineering. The perception of the UK engineering profession as portrayed by the British media is of systematic budgetary and timetable overruns. This is far from the truth in other parts of the world, where British engineers and engineering firms are considered to be amongst the best in the world. In particular, there are two key strengths associated with the UK. The first is an outstanding research base, fuelled by a competitive academia that is keen to engage with industry. The Japanese were particularly envious of the UK's university-based research. We were told on our visit that the reason that approximately 80% of R&D takes place in the private sector in Japan, is that the universities are not trusted as they are in the UK.

350.  The second strength is the chartering system in the UK. Andrew Ramsey, the Chief Executive of Engineering Council UK explained to us what a chartered engineer is:

"[C]hartered 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 chartered 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.[416]

351.  The international respect for UK Chartered Engineers that we noticed was echoed in the evidence we received. Keith Read, who represented the G15 group of engineering institutions, confirmed that "the British chartered engineer has a far higher status internationally than he does at home".[417]

352.  Norman Haste, who built the Severn Bridge and Terminal 5 at Heathrow, gave us one possible explanation, and solution, for the UK's low perception of its engineers:

We are very bad in this country at celebrating success. When you say that we are not very good at delivering projects, I can name a few projects that […] have been tremendous successes. […] I led a team of 600 people; engineers of all disciplines, planning and designing Terminal 5 for six and a half years, but unfortunately, instead of celebrating that as an engineering success, it has become notorious because of British Airways' troubles with their baggage handlers. That is putting the wrong bias completely. What I would like to see is a much greater celebration of success with engineering because we are very good at it.[418]

353.  We received several other suggestions to resolve this issue of perception. The e-consultation for young engineers highlighted some concern about the salaries of engineers:

The salary is really not equal to the work you put in during your degree […]. A pertinent example would be at my university (Bath). The 55 Civil Engineers in my year, can expect on average to start on something around £26-30K if they achieve a 2:1 or 1st […]. For a BBA (Bachelors of business and administration) the starting wage for that same 1st or 2:1 student could well be the same, despite having done a far easier degree both in time-wise and syllabus wise. In addition after 5 year their projected salary will be far greater than the equivalent civil engineer […]. The trend continues throughout the careers, with engineers earning less. Why should I do engineering if this is the case?[419]

354.  The lower salaries of engineers in comparison with health professionals, lawyers, accountants and bankers is stark (see Figure 5).Figure 5. New Earnings Survey—Comparison of Salaries of Main Professions[420]


355.  Another suggestion, apparently from a journalist covering science for 40 years, focussed on the engineers and their responsibility to communicate why their profession is so important:

A better solution […] would be for engineers to stop whining and to celebrate their subject in public. Point out to young people the engineers are the ones who will solve the problems of climate change and energy shortages. Remind them that engineers created their iPods and the football stadiums they love to visit. Oh, and add that engineers are pretty well paid, despite the whingeing letters that occasional sneak into the newspapers.

For that to happen, engineers have to become better communicators. Don't leave it to the […] physicists to claim the glory from the Large Hadron Collider. Learn how to talk to ordinary people, and not just fellow engineers.

There has been a revolution in science communication over the past 20 years. Sadly, the engineers have missed the boat, perhaps because their institutions are too busy competing with one another when they should be collaborating on this important aspect of their profession.[421]

356.  Another approach explored by a Mr Jennings in a 10 Downing Street petition, could be to tackle terminology. We outlined our definition of an engineer in the first chapter—an engineer turns ideas into reality—but we did not delve into terminology, which is far more complicated. In the UK, for example, the term 'engineer' is generically used to describe both chartered engineers and technicians. This is not the case in, say, Germany or France, where engineers and technicians are distinguished in everyday language.[422] Mr Jennings has suggested legal protection should be afforded to the title 'Engineer':

As a recently qualified Astronautics Engineer and with 8 years experience as a Robotics Engineer I am at a point where due to the lack of respect by the Government, the media in particular the BBC, and society as a whole, I feel there is little point staying in the UK. Car mechanics, Plumbers and Electricians are now commonly referred to as Engineers and Banks now regard Engineers as non/semi skilled. With the UK falling behind most other countries in training Professional Engineers and the falling numbers of children undertaking science based subjects this can only result in a reduction in the UK's competitiveness. I believe for the long turn prosperity of the UK and to attract students back to science subjects the Government must act decisively and introduce laws to protect Engineers such that only "Chartered Engineers" ImechE, RAeS [Royal Aeronautical Society] can use the title Engineer. This will give Engineers the same professional status in our society as doctors, lawyers similar to Europe.[423]

357.  The petition received 35,360 signatories, and great deal of support during our e-consultation exercise with employers. However, the Government rejected the petition:

The Government looks to the Engineering Council UK to regulate the professional status of engineers, through its Royal Charter. It is true that there is nothing to stop anyone from describing themselves as an "engineer" but only those individuals who have a current registration on the ECUK Register of Qualified Engineers and Technicians may use the professional titles of Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer and Engineering Technician. It would not be practical or appropriate for the Government to attempt to introduce new legislation on this matter.[424]

358.  While dissatisfied with the current situation, we find ourselves in agreement with the Government. The catchall use of 'engineering' is regrettable, but legislating on language cannot be the answer to raising the status of engineers. Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer and Engineering Technician are already protected terms and respected titles, especially internationally. We suggest that the engineering institutions, Engineering Council UK and the Government (see Paragraph 284, Chapter 5) should do a better job of promoting Chartered Engineer status (CEng), Incorporated Engineer status (IEng) and Engineering Technician status (EngTech). In the same way the general public respects academic qualifications such as PhDs, Masters and Honours Degrees, or professional qualifications in law and medicine, so should it be possible to inform the public about the professional status of CEng, IEng and EngTech.

Conclusion

359.  When we decided to conduct this inquiry, the enormous scope and breadth of engineering and the problems that this might cause were at the forefront of our minds. We attempted to mitigate against this problem of breadth and scope by identifying themes and exploring them through case studies. The engineering profession and Government do not have this luxury: engineers must continue to be trained in all the necessary disciplines, in appropriate quantities, while keeping standards consistent and high across the whole; engineering advice must be sourced from Government and available from engineers as and when it is needed, no matter what the subject and sometimes on short timescales; long-term engineering projects that affect disparate parts of the UK, many engineering companies and several Government departments must retain focus while economic and political factors fluctuate around them. None of these tasks are easy; all are necessary.

360.  In the preceding chapters, and to an extent in this chapter, we have discussed some of the broad issues and made some specific recommendations. In Chapter 2 we discussed the complicated interaction between skills training and capacity, overlapping engineering programmes and supply chain difficulties in relation to nuclear engineering. We concluded that the Government would benefit from taking a more strategic approach to its large-scale engineering programmes. In Chapter 3 we discussed the role Government plays in innovation and commercialisation and we concluded that the Government should be more strategic in its approach to supporting emerging industries. In Chapter 4 we explored the policy implications of a new engineering discipline, concluding that the views of the engineering, science and social science communities are all critical to shaping domestic and international policy and that Government should consult widely in developing relevant legislative frameworks. And in Chapter 5 we outlined deficiencies in the Government's capability to make engineering advice the foundation of many policy areas. We recommended that Government would benefit from having more engineers at all levels of the Civil Service and suggested some structural changes to enhance the cross-departmental organisation of specialist advice.

361.  There is a need for better trans-departmental management of engineering policy. The Government should adopt a practice of formulating and following roadmaps for each major engineering programme, including skills provision (see Chapter 2) with co-ordination between each of them. The Government should also be more strategic in its support for emerging industries and policy areas (see Chapters 3 and 4). Finally, Government would benefit from having senior officials tasked to oversee engineering roadmaps and strategic plans, and to manage engineering advice in a Civil Service with more residual and specialised engineering expertise. There should be two people responsible for this challenging body of work: a Government Chief Scientific and Engineering Adviser and a Government Chief Engineer (see Chapter 5).

362.  While we have been critical about the Government's lack of detailed strategic planning and use of engineering advice, there are significant positives to take from this inquiry. We welcome the co-ordinated way in which the engineering community approached this inquiry (Chapter 1). We have been impressed by efforts to inspire and train the next generation of engineers, including the Government's commitment to the STEM agenda (Chapter 6) and to employer-led training (Chapter 2). We have discovered that our engineering research base is world-class (Chapter 3). And we welcome the Government Chief Scientific Adviser's ongoing efforts to improve the recognition of the engineering community in Government (Chapter 5). But most importantly, we have come to appreciate the critical contribution that engineering makes to society, the economy and to solving or mitigating against many of the world's most daunting challenges. We are convinced that the considerable strength of the UK's engineering base makes it both this nation's responsibility and in its economic interest to play a major part, through our engineering base, in solving global problems such as climate change, food and water supply, energy security and economic instability. The recent economic crisis has presented the Government with a once-in-generation opportunity to restructure the economy by building on the existing substantial strengths of UK engineering.


369   The Demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Skills, DIUS, January 2009, p 14-15; 2006 Labour Market Survey of the GB Engineering Sectors, SEMTA Back

370   The first UK young scientists and engineers fair for schools and colleges Back

371   Ev 124 Back

372   Same as above. Back

373   Ev 159 Back

374   Ev 260 Back

375   Ev 121 Back

376   Q 82 [Ev 9] Back

377   Ev 678 [Professor Caldeira], Ev 666 [RCUK], Ev 690 [IMechE], Ev 663 [NOCS] Back

378   Q 33 [Ev 690] Back

379   Q 6 [Ev 1] Back

380   Q 8 [Ev 1] [Mr Haughton-James] Back

381   Q 59 [Ev 6] Back

382   Q 10 [Ev 2] Back

383   Q 32 [Ev 4] Back

384   Q 35 [Ev 4] Back

385   Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2007-08, Pre-legislative Scrutiny of the Draft Apprenticeships Bill , HC 1062-I Back

386   Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, Re-skilling for recovery: After Leitch, implementing skills and training policies Back

387   Ev 647 Back

388   Q11 [Ev 509] [Dr French] Back

389   Q 491 [Ev 70] Back

390   Q 489 [Ev 70] Back

391   Ev 593 [CEESI], Ev 564 [Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre], Ev 581 [UKDL KTN] Back

392   The DisplayMasters programme was designed by industry and academia with the aim of creating a new generation of Display Technologists, Engineers, Scientists and Managers. DisplayMasters is sponsored by the EPSRC and run by Dundee University in collaboration with the Universities of Abertay Dundee, Cambridge, Edinburgh Napier, Oxford and Nottingham Trent. Back

393   Q 178 [Ev 536] Back

394   Hand, E & Wadman, M (2009) Nature, 457, 942-945 Back

395   Q 180 [Ev 537] Back

396   Q 213 [Ev 546] Back

397   Q 39 [Ev 727] Back

398   www.epsrc.ac.uk/PostgraduateTraining/Centres/EngD/Intro.htm Back

399   Ev 275 Back

400   Ev 97 Back

401   Ev 234 Back

402   Ev 232, 336, 206 Back

403   Ev 204 Back

404   Ev 287 Back

405   Ev 169 Back

406   Ev 268 Back

407   Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) 2004 & HESA 2007 Back

408   Ev 235 Back

409   Summary of 2008 survey findings: engineering and technology skills and demand in industry, Institute of Engineering and Technology, p 4 Back

410   Same as above. Back

411   Q 190 [Ev 26] Back

412   Q 221 [Ev 30] Back

413   Q 222 [Ev 30] Back

414   Q 224 [Ev 31] [Ms Langford] Back

415   Ev 196 Back

416   Q 138 [Ev 19] Back

417   Q 214 [Ev 29] Back

418   Q 98 [Ev 11] Back

419   Ev 796 Back

420   Engineering UK 2007, ETB, p 55 Back

421   Ev 797 Back

422   In German, 'ingenieur' means a chartered engineer, and 'techniker' means a technician; in French, 'ingénieur' means a chartered engineer and 'dépanneur' means a technician. Back

423   http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Engineer-Status Back

424   www.number10.gov.uk/Page14749 Back


 
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