Speaking at an event at Conservative Party Conference, Ministers Gillian Keegan MP and Amanda Solloway MP, stressed the importance of investing in engineering and skills to deliver the green recovery.
Following the Prime Minister’s green recovery targets announced at Conservative Party Conference, Gillian Keegan MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, emphasised the crucial role of engineering in society: “It touches every part of our lives, homes, offices, everything we do.”
The MP for Chichester stressed the importance of ensuring that we have a skills pipeline “coming through from school right the way through” to deliver the green recovery.
The event at Conservative Party Conference, titled: Building a Better Future: The Role of Engineering in Society and the Spending Review, was brought together by The National Engineering Policy Centre, EngineeringUK, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
The panel examined the role the engineering community can play to invest in skills, innovation, digital and traditional infrastructure, as well as clean energy technologies.
Amanda Solloway MP, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, spoke of the critical role that the science and engineering community would make in tackling climate change.
From carbon extraction to fusion technology, the MP for Derby North explained why engineering plays “such an important part”.
She stressed that we have to use science and research and development to do “all those things that will get our planet back,” she said.
“It's engineering that's going to make it work, it is the research and development that is going to bring it alive,” she continued.
The panel agreed about the central role that engineering skills will play in the recovery.
“The Government needs to support the engineering skills which are necessary for us to build a green recovery and support engineering in the long term,” said Professor Jeremy Watson, Professor of Engineering Systems, UCL and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
“It isn't just a numerical need, we need diversity of thought”
The National Engineering Policy Centre recently issued a joint response to the Spending Review, Professor Watson explained, examining how the Government can support a green economic recovery, create jobs, support innovation, and promote green industries.
Professor Watson called for Government investment in innovation: “The Government needs to invest in low carbon technologies, such as low carbon heat, carbon capture and storage.”
Professor Jim Hall, Fellow, Institution of Civil Engineers said: “There are many difficult aspects of decarbonisation, which are further down the line. The good news is the industry is ready.”
Yewande Akinola MBE, a Trustee of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “We need to ensure that we're providing those necessary skills that continue to place us as innovation providers, everywhere in the world.”
“The IET sits right at the heart of those conversations, and the theme of shaping a better world,” she continued.
The panel were in agreement that diversity in the sector was critical in providing the skills necessary for the future.
Diversity is “absolutely crucial,” said Amanda Solloway MP.
“If you don't have solid foundations, and it's really difficult to make sure that you do build a strong science superpower, which is clearly our drive and focus,” she explained.
Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive, EngineeringUK said: “it's so important that we have the right number and diversity of skills to deliver against that.”
“It isn't just a numerical need, we need diversity of thought,” she stated.
Dr Leevers called for the establishment of a strategic workforce planning function across Government, to develop a deep understanding of those skills needs, and an enhanced STEM education strategy.
She said: “We really need to make sure that we've got the careers education, information and guidance to bring people on to the engineering pathways.”
“We also need to continue to focus on that job creation for young people, we just cannot leave this generation behind,” she continued.