More than 40 engineering organisations, including the IMechE, have urged the government to invest £40m annually to improve access to careers provision in English schools and colleges.
Aimed at enabling more young people to understand the opportunities available in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) careers, the call was first made by EngineeringUK in a June report co-authored by the IMechE and other organisations.
Now, the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC), has backed the call and made six further urgent recommendations ahead of the upcoming Autumn Budget and the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. Bringing together the views of 42 engineering organisations and led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the NEPC represents 450,000 UK engineers.
“Ensuring that we have the number and diversity of future engineers to achieve the government’s ambitions around ‘net zero’ and economic growth requires government to develop a well-funded Stem education strategy with careers provision at the heart of it,” said Beatrice Barleon, head of policy and public affairs at EngineeringUK.
The recent report highlighted underfunding of careers provision, Barleon said, limiting what schools can offer to young people. “This must change,” she said.
Speaking about the £40m annual investment, she said: “This small investment, in the context of the wider schools budget, will ensure that schools have the capacity to fulfil their statutory duties in relation to careers provision in a meaningful way and help inspire the next generation of engineers. This is not only vital for the future of young people of this country and for levelling up, but also for the economic success of this country.”
The NEPC’s six recommended areas for investment are:
- “Follow through on the commitment to invest £22bn in R&D by 2024/25. This increase needs to start ramping up now to ensure it delivers the best returns for the economy and society.
- “Accelerate decision making and investment in low-regrets actions that are needed now for decarbonisation, including low-carbon retrofit and refurbishment of existing building stock, prioritising low-carbon heat, and scaling up the electric vehicle charging network.
- “Establish a net zero delivery body to drive and co-ordinate progress across government and industry, provide systems-level analysis, share learnings about what works, and build a clear, evidence-based vision for a net zero UK.
- “Urgently invest in an ambitious net zero skills plan that will enable rapid and affordable reskilling and upskilling opportunities for the existing workforce to meet the short-term skills needs for transition to net zero, as well as longer term skills needs.
- “Invest in a long-term Stem education strategy, including boosting funding for careers activities and teacher recruitment, and accelerating the expansion of inclusive and high-quality technical education and engineering apprenticeships.
- “Embed long-term demand drivers into decision making on infrastructure investment to build back better with low carbon, resource-efficient and resilient infrastructure.”
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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
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