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Recession could put engineering at the centre of the economy

26 March, 2009

A year-long inquiry by a committee of MPs into the state of UK engineering has concluded that the economic crisis is presenting the Government with “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” to restructure the economy by building on the substantial strengths of UK engineering.

The House of Commons Innovations, Universities, Science and Skills Committee found engineering to be “one of the UK’s great strengths”, but discovered that British engineers are more highly regarded internationally than they are at home.

In their report, Engineering: turning ideas into reality, the MPs criticise the lack of engineering expertise within the Government and say they were “shocked” to discover that engineering advice had been lacking in the formulation of key policies. They recommend a reorganisation of advisory structures and the creation of a Government Chief Engineer.

The committee suggests that the UK’s engineering institutions, Engineering Council UK and the government should do a better job of promoting CEng, IEng and EngTech status. It should be possible to inform the public about the professional status of these qualifications, so that they are respected in same way as medical and legal qualifications, the MPs suggest.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has welcomed the report, saying it is “pleased to see that parliamentarians have grasped the difference between science and engineering. The major challenges we face, such as global warming, will only be resolved by the skill and expertise of engineers and it is imperative that this is at the very heart of Government.”

IET president Chris Earnshaw says: "We would like to see more investment into engineering qualifications at the EngTech level as this is vitally important in securing the next generation of engineers and subsequently the country`s future prosperity. We sincerely hope the findings of this report become a reality, not just fine words that are filed and forgotten.”

EEF, the manufacturers’ association, calls the report “well-timed and positive”, adding that it celebrates “the contribution of engineering to the UK`s economy and the importance of getting the right framework in place for the recovery”.

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