• Inaugural winners to receive trophies from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  • Event comes on the day that Royal Academy of Engineering report –  Skills for the nation (2.81 MB) is unveiled
  • Report identifies significant shortfall in supply of engineering graduates
  • Number of global businesses urge young people and teachers to look at engineering as a career option

June 25th, London: The winners of the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Vint Cerf, Louis Pouzin will today receive their trophies from Her Majesty the Queen in front of an audience expected to include the leaders of UK’s three main political parties.

Lord Browne of Madingley, the Chair of Trustees for the Prize, says he hopes the winners’ success will spur more young people to consider a career in engineering.

"Today is an auspicious day for engineering. The first ever winners of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering are being recognised at the highest level for their world-changing achievements, and they should be held up as role models for what young people can achieve by being engineers."

"Engineering is one of the highest paid professions in the UK but figures show that nine out of ten students give up maths and science at school at the age of 16. This has created a severe shortage of engineers, a problem which a number of global businesses are keen to address."

"A solution to this shortage of engineers is within our grasp. UK universities offer world-class engineering courses, with the capacity to accept many more students. Engineering is experiencing a renaissance in public life, and the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is playing an important role in this."

The prize ceremony comes on the same day that a new study undertaken by the Royal Academy of Engineering is published. The  Skills for the nation (2.81 MB)  report shows that the demand for engineers across all sectors of the UK economy exceeds supply.

It shows that engineering remains a highly attractive career option for young people. But where teaching programmes in 46 of the UK’s most established universities consistently are being filled to capacity, many of the UK’s new universities – which include a number of former polytechnics – have undersubscribed engineering courses.

"The Academy's labour market studies show significant demand for graduate engineers, evidenced by employers' readiness to pay salary premiums" says Professor Kel Fidler FREng, co-author of the 'Skills for the nation' report. "This, coupled with the capacity available to engage more of our brightest youngsters in high quality well-resourced Professional Engineering Institution Accredited Courses in many of our newer universities augurs well".

Key findings of the report include:

  • There is the capacity for growth in the number of engineers graduating from newer universities.
  • Demand for graduate engineers exceeds supply
  • Overall, UK engineering higher education has a good reputation for quality

Lord Browne’s Guildhall speech will be made to an array of senior business people, with representatives from prize donor companies BAE Systems, BG Group, BP, GSK, Jaguar Land Rover, National Grid, Shell, Siemens UK, Sony, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Steel and Toshiba all expected to be in attendance.

Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said:

"Engineers are the perfect example of the sort of high-skilled, long term jobs we want to encourage, jobs that will be critical to growing the British economy over the next decade.

“My ambition is that this decade becomes the decade of the engineer as we encourage more young people -and girls in particular- to study physics, maths and science at school as the gateway subjects to a career in engineering."

BAE Systems Chairman, Dick Olver, said:

"The UK workforce requires specialised engineering skills, particularly in high-tech sectors, to drive innovation and deliver growth. I very much hope the Queen Elizabeth prize is a catalyst to do just that."

BP's Group Regional Vice President for UK/Europe, Peter Mather, said:

"BP is delighted to be supporting the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, signalling the importance and value of engineering careers. To further support this aim, BP has recently announced a new five year, £4.3m Enterprising Science partnership with the Science Museum and King’s College London to inspire young people to develop their interest in science and engineering. The UK is the home for BP and we want to help develop and encourage young people with skills in the STEM subjects to look at careers in the oil and gas business, as well as the other STEM-based industries in the UK. We hope this programme will help attract young people to STEM careers in the future."

National Grid's chief executive, Steve Holliday, said:

"I congratulate the winners of the inaugural prize as they collect their trophies, and hope they prove to young people that engineering can be an exciting career path to take. We need to inspire young people to choose engineering as a career, and this prize is a fantastic way of doing just that."

Shell UK Country Chair, Ed Daniels, said:

"Engineering is essential to our business and is fundamental to addressing the many challenges that face society today. I am delighted that the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is focusing attention on this discipline. We need more engineers to grow and continue to innovate as a company and I am confident that the Prize will serve as an inspiration for those young people thinking about engineering as a career."

Siemens UK Chief Executive, Roland Aurich, said:

"I hope the success of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering will inspire the next generation of engineers here in the UK and around the world to help us answer the big infrastructure questions that we will face in the years ahead."

Tata Consultancy Services CEO and Managing Director, Mr N Chandrasekaran, said:

"In the UK and globally, our community engagement programme focuses on young people and technology. We believe that business has a collective responsibility to inspire a generation of young people to work at the forefront of technological change. The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering will help the UK attract some of the best engineering minds and also motivate youngsters to take up STEM subjects."

CEO of Tata Steel in Europe, Dr Karl Koehler, said:

"The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a wonderful opportunity to open the eyes of young people to everything that a career in engineering offers. We need a fantastic initiative like this to remind us, not only in the UK, but throughout Europe, that it was engineering that made our continent prosperous and provided the differentiating factor that led to Europe’s economic rise.

"The Prize also emphasises that engineering is the key to retaining our economic competitiveness. The Prize celebrates innovation and those who work on the engineering solutions to the great challenges and opportunities of modern society. Europe will always need engineers because companies like Tata Steel that focus on innovation must employ people with the right technical skills to ensure they succeed in their markets.

"This is important because large-scale industries like ours form the backbone of much of the rest of manufacturing activity. We employ about 4,000 engineers in the UK alone – about 20% of our workforce – and run one of the country’s largest apprentice schemes, with about 500 apprentices on our books at any one time. We need people with right STEM-subject qualifications.

"That’s why we pioneered the Industrial Cadets scheme with Prince Charles, whereby school kids of about 13-14 years of age attend one of our sites for 3 hours a week for about 8-10 weeks in order to learn about manufacturing and steelmaking."

Notes for editors

Full information, images and video footage are available at  qeprize.org/launch-assets

The report – 'Skills for the nation: engineering undergraduates UK' is available for download here:
www.raeng.org.uk/engineeringundergraduates

The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a £1million global engineering prize designed to reward and celebrate the individuals responsible for a ground-breaking innovation in engineering that has been of global benefit to humanity. Her Majesty the Queen will present the specially designed trophy at the award ceremony held at Buckingham Palace on 25 June 2013.

For more information please visit:  www.qeprize.org

The winners of the prize were selected by an eminent panel of judges from across the world and worked from information in the nominations, comments from referees and any addition required to establish which nomination most fully met the prize criteria. The  judging panel  for the inaugural cycle comprises: Professor Frances Arnold, Lord Alec Broers (Chair), Professor Brian Cox, Madam Deng Nan, Professor Lynn Gladden, Diane Greene, Professor John Hennessy, Professor Dr Dr h.c. Reinhard Hüttl, Professor Calestous Juma, Professor Hiroshi Komiyama, Dr Dan Mote, Narayana Murthy, Dr Nathan Myhrvold, Professor Choon Fong Shih and Paul Westbury.