Engineering profession calls for action to secure the UK’s future economy and society

Article by Amanda Jasi

THE National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) has published a manifesto for a prosperous and secure economy and society. It calls on the UK government to work with them to invest in skills, innovation, digital and traditional infrastructure, and clean energy technologies.

The NEPC is a partnership between 39 leading UK engineering organisations, including IChemE, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng). It represents almost half a million UK engineers. The engineering manifesto is the partnership’s first joint publication.

Published ahead of the forthcoming spending review, the UK’s exit from the EU, and a possible general election, Engineering priorities for our future economy and society highlights critical policy recommendations to enhance the UK’s status as a world-leading innovation and engineering hub.

The manifesto recommends 20 actions across five key policy areas:

  • Skills: Implement the recommendations of the Perkins Review, which sets out actions to ensure an adequate supply of engineering talent for our nation, to secure the engineering skills needed for the future.
  • Innovation: Increase Innovate UK’s budget to boost support for business innovation and the “D” of R&D to increase productivity. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation.
  • Digital: Deliver fast and resilient digital infrastructure, a thriving business environment, excellent digital skills and a diverse pipeline of workers to create a world-leading digital economy.
  • Infrastructure: Deliver on the recommendations of the National Infrastructure Assessment or set out alternative plans to meet the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs.
  • Energy and climate change: Deliver on the UK’s ambitious climate change goals by investing in demonstration and deployment of new low-carbon heat, charging of electric vehicles, and carbon capture and storage technologies.

IChemE welcomes its members to share the manifesto with their local MP to highlight the recommendations. Members can find their MP’s contact details online and use this letter template to share the manifesto.

Jarka Glassey, Technical Vice President of IChemE, said: “IChemE are delighted to be working with and supporting our peers through the National Engineering Policy Centre. In carrying out our learned society function, it is important that we highlight areas of technical and strategic competence where chemical engineers can make a difference and help effect meaningful change through collaboration.

“Chemical engineers are at the forefront of programmes addressing the Global Grand Challenges we face as a society. They have the problem-solving skills and technical expertise that makes them best placed to give policy-makers advice on how to deal with these issues.

“But we need the government to take the actions in this manifesto forward; to invest in us engineers, address the skills gap, and give us the political and financial backing to boost innovation and productivity to enable us to effect positive change to the problems we face in our society and environment.”

The NEPC was established to give policymakers access to the best independent advice, skills and expertise of the engineering profession, which employs more than 5.8 million people and generates £420.5bn (US$513.9bn) of UK Gross Value Added. It aims to apply engineers’ problem-solving skills to some of the biggest challenges faced by the UK today.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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