From education to employment

On the right path but huge challenges remain: Academy responds to the 2020 Spending Review

The Royal Academy of Engineering has welcomed the government’s spending review, following the Chancellor’s speech in the House of Commons earlier today. Further details are available here:

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Today’s Spending Review sets us on the right path to addressing the huge challenges facing the UK against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic – achieving a recovery that marries economic renewal with the societal goals of spreading opportunity and skilled employment more evenly across the nation and reducing our net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. There is a long way to go, but I am pleased to see substantial alignment with the recommendations laid out by the engineering profession in its joint submission to the spending review: Engineering a resilient and sustainable future.

“Government appears to be thinking about infrastructure in parallel with net zero and I welcome this shift. Careful and considered decisions made about infrastructure now will drive economic recovery, provide skilled jobs and improve collective wellbeing. Success in achieving net zero will depend on us retrofitting and building a resilient infrastructure system. The announcement of a National Infrastructure Bank, combined with changes to the Green Book, present a real opportunity to deliver this, by considering longer-term value for money and wider policy goals such as net zero and levelling up.

“Today’s settlement reflects a welcome prioritisation of education and skills. The UK’s ambitions on net zero, infrastructure and digitalisation cannot be achieved unless we create the right talent base and provide more people from all backgrounds and at all levels with the right engineering and technical skills. However, we need a long-term, strategic approach to workforce planning, plus an increased focus on innovation, computing and science in schools, if we are to deliver.

“With this statement, government has set the UK on the road to becoming a science, engineering and innovation superpower, recognising the importance of long-term planning for research, providing a multi-year settlement for the National Academies and UK Research and Innovation’s core research budgets. Supporting innovation is vital to ensure that the UK translates its world-class research in technological breakthroughs that can enhance the productivity and competitiveness of UK business.

“We note that within the reduced envelope for Official Development Assistance, there is a continuing commitment to support developing countries to ‘build back greener’, including through research and development on clean energy technologies. We hope that in the difficult decisions to be made on ODA priorities, the essential contributions of infrastructure and engineering skills to sustainable development are fully reflected.”

Notes for editors

  1. The National Engineering Policy Centre is a unified voice for 43 professional engineering organisations, representing 450,000 engineers, a partnership led by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

    We give policymakers a single route to advice from across the engineering profession.

    We inform and respond to policy issues of national importance, for the benefit of society.

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone.

    In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public.

    Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. +44 207 766 0636; email: [email protected]

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