In May 2017, the IET and Engineering Professors’ Council will be hosting a high-profile global conference to discuss new approaches to engineering education. This is in response to the ever-increasing engineering skills gap and couldn’t come at a more important time.
The UK has a huge role to play in overcoming this challenge, and the conference in May is an opportunity for the UK to share its opinions and expertise. It’s also an excellent stage to discuss the key elements of the Government’s new industrial strategy.
The strategy includes a range of potential actions designed to provide more young people with the skills they need to thrive in engineering. Importantly, it will also provide the funding required. For example, there is a pledge of £170m to create new institutes of technology which will focus on teaching skills that are appropriate for the industries in their location. There is also a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – part of £4.7bn in funding for R&D announced in November – that will help support technologies where Britain has a strong position in research and development.
The new strategy sits on 10 pillars, which are identified as:
- Investing in science, research and innovation
- Developing skills
- Upgrading infrastructure
- Supporting businesses to start and grow
- Improving procurement
- Encouraging trade and inward investment policy
- Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
- Cultivating world leading sectors
- Driving growth across the whole country
- Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places
These 10 pillars represent an important first step in creating a long-term industrial strategy that enables the UK – and the world – to meet the growing demand for engineers. At present, however, they are just top level pillars. The global conference in May has the potential to inspire the lower level ideas, method and activities that can turn this strategy into a fruitful ongoing programme. It is this nitty gritty detail that will be the difference between success and failure.
We’re looking forward to seeing the outcome of the conference and working together with the relevant groups and authorities to ensure the engineering sector gets the candidates it needs and young people get the education they deserve.