THE UK’s professional engineering institutions (PEIs) have agreed to advise the government on its Brexit negotiations with one voice – through the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng).
The vote to leave the EU will have a material effect on UK engineering, which accounts for some 27% of GDP and over half of national exports, says the academy.
At a meeting on 29 June, all 35 PEIs including IChemE, agreed to co-operate to provide evidence-based advice to government on the needs of all sectors dependent on engineering and that RAEng should lead the effort through its Engineering the Future initiative.
In a statement announcing the agreement, the academy outlined the importance of ensuring that the UK maintains its position as a centre for engineering research, helps set globally-recognised codes and standards, has access to the skills that industry needs, and retains competitiveness in export markets.
“Never in my lifetime has there been an issue that so emphatically requires strategic collaboration across the engineering profession,” says RAEng CEO Philip Greenish. “We are rising to this challenge and pooling our resources to provide government with the best advice and access to our networks to inform its planning and leadership role. We are building a new, proactive framework for making engineering advice available to government on these critical matters for now and for the duration of the change process.”
Work is under way to consult across engineering to gather evidence, analyse the risks and opportunities of leaving the EU, and produce advice for government “to underpin a strong negotiating position and positive result for the UK.”
RAEng has already contacted government negotiators to offer support throughout the planning stage and future negotiations with the EU on the UK exit.
Commenting on the chemical engineering concerns related to Brexit, IChemE communications director Andy Furlong noted: “Our survey of member attitudes towards Brexit revealed widespread concern. Over 1,000 UK members responded with 62% fearing that withdrawal would be harmful to the chemical engineering community.
“Availability of skilled process engineers topped the list of worries, closely followed by concerns over the future of research funding and barriers to pan-European collaboration. The referendum outcome will have heightened these fears and that's why IChemE will be working closely with our STEM partners in the UK to influence the best possible outcome for the profession in the complex exit negotiations that lie ahead.”
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