The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has welcomed the Government’s commitment to an industrial strategy for Britain and is calling for specific commitment in a number of areas in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.
Will Stewart, IET Vice President, said: “Having a strategy allows governments to make timely, well-signalled, course corrections in markets rather than situations building up to a point at which there is a dramatic shift or U-turn. It helps industry and society work together to deliver a resilient, productive, sustainable and competitive industrial sector.
“Of the many considerations in developing an industrial strategy, one of the most important is that there is a long-term approach – which should be both cross government and cross political party. Fundamental too is a far-reaching strategy for how to develop future generations of highly skilled engineers who can help to advance innovation.”
Areas that need particular Government attention and focus include:
A clear commitment to the free movement of skilled people, which the engineering and technology industry urgently needs, including some sort of fast-track procedure for skills in particularly low supply within the UK.
Spending on modern infrastructure, both the physical infrastructures that allow movement of people and goods and the communications infrastructure on which industry is now dependent, to maximise national benefit and wealth creation across the UK – in particular a focus on a universal digital communications infrastructure, both wireless and fibre world-leading broadband, to build on our strong global position at the forefront of the e-economy.
Incentives and policy instruments to encourage entrepreneurs and start-up companies, and promote projects like community energy initiatives, as evidence suggests that fresh thinking and innovation often comes from small organisations rather than the ‘big players’. These incentives and policy instruments could be financial, but they could also be lighter-touch regulatory and market mechanisms that help SMEs (unlike mechanisms such as auctions that are barriers to small players who do not have corporate back-up and who need to know the value of their product in advance if they are to raise funds).
Clarity on commitment to decentralisation, including opportunities for local action in Community Energy, Smart Cities and the Internet of Things, which are new developments that hold considerable potential, but developers and entrepreneurs are held back where there is lack of clarity in the government's intent.
Simplified regulatory processes for small players such as community energy groups and community broadband providers.
Review of academic research grants and strengthening of global university collaboration opportunities, ideally supported by government Tsar.
Academic research funding to be centralised into one funding body and portal – and the application process to be streamlined significantly.
Revised public procurement policies (particularly in light of the Brexit vote) and a clear position on regional development, as Britain is no longer able to bid for European Regional Development Funds.
Notes to editors:
Looking for images to accompany your engineering stories? Use the IET’s media image library to highlight the exciting, creative and dynamic world of engineering.
Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 167,000 members in 150 countries. It is also the most interdisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
For more information, visit www.theiet.org
Follow the IET on Twitter.