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UK Government joins forces with industry to develop engineers

Vince Cable marked the second Tomorrow’s Engineers Week by confirming government commitment to invest in training engineers of the future.

Vince Cable today (3 November 2014) marked the start of the second Tomorrow’s Engineers Week by confirming the government’s commitment to invest in training the engineers of the future.

Speaking at the start of a week of activity that seeks to challenge the perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers, the Business Secretary announced that government and employers are working together to develop the engineering workforce Britain needs to compete on the world stage.

Acting on the recommendations of ‘Perkins Review of Engineering Skills’ published in November 2013, the government has established partnerships with employers from across industry with multi-million pound collaborative investments in initiatives such as national colleges for manufacturing, energy and high-speed rail and £30 million of match funding for businesses to design and deliver innovative skills training.

The first £20 million of the fund is currently open for employers looking to develop projects aimed at improving engineering careers and increasing the number of women in the sector. The final £10 million will soon be made available to develop engineering skills in smaller companies.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said at the Shell Centre London:

A strong British engineering sector lies at the heart of sustainable economic recovery. That’s why we have joined forces with industry to secure the pipeline of talented and skilled engineers UK industry needs. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is about ensuring that each and every young person across the country is aware of the exciting future they could have as an engineer.

The government has worked hard to address the important questions raised in the Perkins review. I am greatly encouraged by the progress we have made so far and I look forward to these partnerships continuing long into the future. Only by working together over the long term can we have a reasonable hope of increasing the supply of engineers in the UK, a critical requirement for the government’s Industrial Strategy.

South West Water was today confirmed as the first company to be granted match funding as part of the £30 million initiative. The government and South West Water are to co-invest more than £250,000 in developing the skills needed to replenish an ageing workforce. With up to 40% of the company’s current operational workforce due to retire within the next decade, South West Water is investing in the skills it needs to continue to deliver a quality service to its customers and manage the loss of experienced staff.

Chris Loughlin, Chief Executive at South West Water, said:

Just as we plan our infrastructure requirements many years ahead, it’s important to ensure that we have a steady supply of trained talent for tomorrow. We’re delighted to have secured this extra funding. It will help us to develop a new generation of engineers and technical staff, opening up some exciting new career opportunities.

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week seeks to inspire young people to take their first steps towards a career in the sector by celebrating the everyday engineering heroes that design, create and innovate to improve our lives. The week was launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2013 in partnership with the engineering industry following the ‘Perkins Review of Engineering Skills’, which called for government and engineering firms to work together to secure the UK’s engineering future. The week sees the publication of a one-year-on progress report by Professor Perkins.

Professor John Perkins said:

The annual Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is a great example of the engineering profession, employers and government working together to encourage more young people to consider entering the exciting world of engineering. Given the vital role that engineers play in the modern world, a shared goal to increase supply in the UK is crucially important. It is by working together that we have the best chance of achieving this aim.

In addition to securing the supply of engineers, the government is working with the engineering industry to increase the diversity of the sector. It is vital that women have the same opportunities to progress in their career as their male counterparts, and government is funding the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to run a joint STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) Diversity Programme to understand and address issues of diversity, including gender, in the STEM workforce.

Notes to editors

  1. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek14) takes place from 3 to 7 November 2014 and aims to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers.
  2. The week celebrates the everyday engineering heroes that design, create and innovate to improve our lives. Launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2013 in partnership with the engineering community, the first Tomorrow’s Engineers Week involved more than 70 engineering organisations, 65 events or local activities and more than 200 schools.
  3. South West Water provides water and treatment services for Devon & Cornwall. South West Water is part of the Pennon Group, providing water and waste services throughout Devon & Cornwall and is one of the largest employers in the region.
  4. The original review by Professor John Perkins was published in November 2013.
  5. The Perkins Review Progress report is available online.
  6. The investment will enable South West Water to retain the capacity to deliver a quality service to its customers and manage the loss of experienced staff to retirement over the next 5 to 10 years, through strengthening the progression pathways for water technicians and engineers. It will also support SWW’s drive for increased efficiency and productivity, building on broadening the skills sets for their engineers.
  7. Employers wanting to find out more about how they can apply for Employer Ownership funding to develop training to boost engineering skills should contact employerownershipenquiries@bis.gsi.gov.uk.
  8. Alternatively more information is available on the £10 million ‘Improving Engineers Careers’ fund and on the £10 million call to develop more women engineers.
  9. The government’s long-term plan is to build a strong, more competitive economy and a fairer society.
  10. Industrial Strategy gives impetus to the plan for growth by providing businesses, investors and the public with clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.
  11. The first achievements and future priorities of the industrial strategy have been published.
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