The Big Engineering Issue

The Big Engineering Issue

The Live Bank holiday Monday 'Battle for Number 10. May Vs Corbyn' on channel 4, was a real eye opener for the many people, who are still undecided on who to vote. With only a week left to go to the general election on June 8th, we noticed for the first time a real sense of acknowledgment for the widening skill gaps; both parties accepting that if investment was not effectively pumped into STEM related studies then there could be serious implications for our younger generations.

With austerity measures slashing budgets and education services we have effectively widen Britain's skills gap, the need now for an effective industrial strategy is paramount. For the first time on Monday night, politicians brought manufacturing, technology and engineering issues to the forefront of their agenda's; with the two leaders admitting that there had been a real lack of funding in STEM related careers, the realisation that we are being left behind with a weak talent pool is disheartening. Not only does this reveal the enormity of the gap but how it could effect Brexit negotiations, as we currently need migrating workers to fill this gap..

Jeremy Corbyn commented on the need to “develop a much stronger manufacturing base and an innovative economy for the future” he then went on to stress that “the biggest challenge facing the economy in Britain today, was the skills gap and more funding was needed in these areas”.
Theresa May hit back by sharing her views on the skills shortage, she believes that “expansion of vocational education would be at the heart of a new proactive industrial strategy”  the plans to pledge £170million in funding for technical institutions revealed her governments commitment. But the question still remains, how are we going to fill the skills gap whilst we invest and train in new talent?

Our friends at IET, The Institution of Engineering and Technology have produced a general election campaign to help highlight the ‘big engineering issues’ that is plaguing the industry today and propose a long-standing industrial strategy:

The IET's infographic outlines the need for Britain to be “fast moving, innovative and creative” their proposed campaign could help local parliamentary candidates forge new relationships at global level.

IET campaign covers 6 key areas:
  • Training for a digital Economy
  • Champion Enabling Technologies
  • Invest in Infrastructure
  • Make cyber security a priority
  • Champion energy efficiency
  • Ensure affordable energy in a time of major change

At the heart of this issue will be Brexit, with industries calling to retain access to skilled labour, Britain needs to still appear as a global technical powerhouse, however with immigration numbers being the biggest reason why people voted to leave the EU, how do political parties and campaigners address the shortage without upsetting voters? At the moment we need migration to help fill these gaps. The government whoever it will be on June 9th has a hard task ahead of them and needs a long-term overview and strategy that recognises the combination of infrastructure, skills and innovation.

A great way to achieve this, is by introducing an ecosystem that embraces these 3 core principles. It already exist in the US, a country so focused on innovation that’s its managed to encourage its young and talented millennials to be the 'trend setters', the 'developers' the 'inventors of future industries'. They have more investment and real partnerships between schools, businesses, governments and investors then we can actually dream of; and with technological hubs in San Francisco, Oregon, Seattle, Austin and Atlanta, they bring a real sense of culture that constantly draws in young talent. If we want greater innovation in Britain that offers opportunity for national growth and prosperity, then we need to inspire today’s millennial’s who are looking for a real sense of purpose and culture, it is incredibly disappointing for them not to see the same scale of investment and development.

We are now faced with some real big choices. The IET are outlining their proposals to parliamentary candidates who have the opportunity to work with institutions like these, who can help make a difference.

Channel 4: Battle for Number 10 - May Vs Corbyn
Geoff Ho: Sunday Express
Stephen Exley: Tes