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Engineering skills are vital to UK’s future

At a Lib Dem Party conference fringe event organised by the professional engineering community, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Vince Cable MP emphasised the importance of engineering skills to meet the challenges of the future.

Engineering skills are vital to UK’s future

Speaking to a packed audience on the theme of "Picking winners: can engineering succeed where finance has failed?" Mr Cable endorsed a rebalancing of the UK economy and called for a debate on how government should promote and prioritise industry and engineering
"The role of government should be to do those things that the private sector does not do, such as ensuring that there are enough young people studying maths and science, and enough qualified professionals at all levels to teach them all they need to know to secure the future of science and engineering," he said.

Professor Dame Wendy Hall, a leading academic and IT innovator, called for a "new kind of climate change" in attitudes to skills. "The UK needs a shift towards a climate of can-do, enterprise and success" she said, in order to make the most of the huge opportunities for UK business in such technologies of the future as the Web of linked data, or Semantic Web. "There need to be incentives for women and under-represented communities to enter and stay in engineering," she pointed out.

The debate also featured a contribution from IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2008, Dr Hanna Sykulska-Lawrence, who said: "It excites me that what I do is real – a chance to change our world and be in control of our future."

Welcoming the lively debate at the event, David Brown, Chair of the ETB’s Professional Panel and Chief Executive of IChemE, said:

"The organisations supporting this event under the banner "Engineering the future" are all delighted at the response to our debate and to our " mini-manifesto", which we have launched today with a five point plan that sets out how government can support engineering. Vince Cable’s comments have reinforced the argument for an engineering led recovery. It is therefore essential that current levels of investment in engineering education and research are maintained in order to strengthen the skills base in readiness for the upturn".

We are looking forward to our fringe events at the Labour and Conservative party conferences over the coming weeks which we hope will also raise the profile of engineering and encourage engineers to engage in the national debate."

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