'Real engineering' needs real support from Government
The Hinton Lecture is one of the Royal Academy of Engineering's prestige events. This year, the lecture was given by industry secretary Lord Mandelson, who used the opportunity to call for more 'real engineering'.
To a certain extent, Lord Mandelson is pushing an open door. There is general acceptance that the UK needs to decrease its reliance on the services sector and rebuild its manufacturing and engineering base.
Interestingly, Lord Mandelson acknowledged that 'there is a germ of truth to the fact that, in our country, a lot of money has been put into the money industry over the last decade, when it might have been used to make things'. Some might take a stronger view of that assessment.
It has been almost the de facto position for Governments over the past 25 years or so; to regard manufacturing and engineering as yesterday's industries and services as the way to go.
At last, it appears this Government has finally understood the importance of engineering and manufacturing to the UK economy. Some may say this has come too late.
At the same time we need to boost UK engineering, there's a massive technical skills shortage and it's becoming ever harder to encourage students to become engineers. The Government is aware of this and has announced a number of measures to address the problem, and we are assured it will be announcing more.
Unfortunately, it will take some time – a generation in some instances – to undo the damage.
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