Speaking at an event organised by the professional engineering community, the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, told a packed room of the need to put the conditions in place to allow engineering and high tech manufacturing to thrive in the UK.

Kenneth Clarke, speaking alongside David Waboso FREng, Director of Lines Upgrades at London Underground, and Dr Rachel Cooke, Project Manager at Cadbury’s, set out the Conservative Party view that Government was not well placed to predict the most important technologies for the future. The proper role for Government was to create the environment in which enterprise can thrive. He went on to say that tax incentives and grants could play some role in supporting the economic recovery and suggested that environmental technologies and high tech manufacturing were two key areas for the UK’s future.

Mr Clarke said: The future lies with engineering. High tech manufacturing and engineering aimed at niche markets must be allowed to thrive in Britain."
The idea that the modern economies only have services is very dead indeed. Engineering is an absolutely key area.”

The event was chaired by Andrew Haldenby, Director of the Reform think tank, which had helped to organise similar events held by the engineering community under the banner Engineering the future at the three main party conferences. All speakers, of all parties, had agreed that engineering will play a crucial role in future, he pointed out.

David Waboso pointed out that UK engineering is world-leading and is crucial to underpin the growth, prosperity and sustainability agendas. He reminded the meeting that it takes 10 years to create a skilled engineer and that massive infrastructure projects need long-term commitment. “We need to see a vision from Government that will enable engineering to achieve the world class solutions that we know we have to offer,” he said.

Dr Rachel Cooke, former IChemE Young Woman Engineer of the Year, told the meeting about her work to inspire more young people into a career that can make a far-reaching and beneficial influence on society. Shesaid: “An engineer is someone who can do for 50 pence what anyone else can do for a pound. What country would not want more of them?”

Speaking on behalf of the engineering community, Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Technology Board (ETB) said: “It was very encouraging to see how absolutely packed the room was today. This shows the real interest that is now being shown in engineering and technology as a path to economic recovery. Now it is important that we see action taken to ensure that this goal is achieved.”

Notes for editors

  1. Dr Rachel Cooke

    Graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2000 with a top starred first in Chemical Engineering, Rachel was the winner of the National Best Chemical Engineering Student of the Year award. Following a PhD in rheology at Cambridge, she joined the Cadbury graduate programme and has held a number of posts over the past five years before becoming a Project Manager. Rachel is an ambassador for the profession, regularly presenting the chemical engineering aspects of chocolate manufacture in schools and more general scientific and engineering principles to the general public. In 2007 Rachel won the GlaxoSmithKline Young Engineer of the Year Award for her work. She is currently based in Poland where she is involved in the construction of a new factory.
  2. David Waboso

    David has worked on light rail, metro and mainline railways and is currently the Director of Line Upgrades at London Underground. His previous experience included the DLR, where he was awarded first prize as UK Project Manager of the Year for his work on DLR’s moving block resignalling, and the Jubilee Line Extension, where he successfully led the integration and commissioning of the different contractors’ systems in time for the Millennium opening.

    Following the Jubilee Line, David was appointed as Systems Director for the Thameslink Project, and then became Programme Director for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), leading a European-wide cross-industry team in producing the UK Implementation Plan for ERTMS.

    Prior to joining LU David was Executive Director, Technical at the Strategic Rail Authority, where he was responsible for improving performance and efficiency. He also had responsibility for technical harmonisation with Europe, where he represented the UK on the board of the European Rail Agency, and was non-executive director of the Rail Safety and Standards Board, working on system interfaces and a fundamental review of standards.

    David has worked in both public and private sectors for contractors, management consultants, consulting engineers and client organisations. He is a Chartered Engineer and is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers, and Association for Project Management. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
  3. Engineering the future

    Engineering the future is an alliance of the engineering community including the Engineering Council UK (ECUK), the Engineering and Technology Board (ETB), the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET),the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng.) – in association with the think tank Reform. We are working jointly to raise the profile of engineering by strengthening national policy and also promoting the contribution of engineering to the UK’s economic recovery and beyond

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