Following the Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“These investments recognise the critical role that engineering plays in stimulating economic growth and supporting communities, not just in the South East of England, but right across the country. There are neglected areas of the UK with a long and proud engineering heritage that could be revitalised through the right investment, creating jobs where they are most needed and supporting economic growth.

“Creating jobs is only a part of the solution however. The engineering profession faces a well-documented skills crisis, and the government’s promised investments can only deliver for communities and for national productivity if there is investment in the skills that employers need. The Royal Academy of Engineering runs schools engagement projects in economically deprived areas such as Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, to raise aspirations and skills levels among students and contribute towards the creation of an engineering skills base capable of meeting the region’s future needs. But much more work needs to be done across the country to equip communities with the technical and vocational skills that are so in demand, and meet the future needs of the economy. The government’s industrial strategy will be critical in delivering that step change in our skills base.”

Commenting on the proposed investments in digital connectivity, she added:

“The promised investment in 5G is very welcome news, as digital connectivity plays a crucial role in day to day life, benefitting individuals and enabling businesses to be more competitive. The UK has the potential to be an international leader in digital technology, and investing £700m in 5G technology is a step in the right direction, but we will need enough skilled engineers to make this a reality and to ensure economic resilience as the UK leaves the EU.”

On Monday, the Academy welcomed the news of a major new programme of investment in research and innovation, including a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Commenting on the additional details shared on the investment, Professor Dowling said:

“I was pleased to hear the Chancellor’s recognition that we do not invest enough in research, development and innovation and that it can play an important role in increasing the UK’s productivity. The announced increase of around 20% to total government R&D spending will boost confidence in the research and innovation community and help build on the UK’s world class reputation in science and innovation.”

Reflecting on the week’s announcements, and the new £23bn national productivity investment fund, Professor Dowling concluded:

“The investments announced today by the Chancellor and the formation of a new industrial strategy represent a major opportunity to get Britain back on its feet, and to accelerate the growth of emerging engineering technologies – such as robotics - that are going to have the most transformative impact on society in years to come. It will be important to match these investments with a substantial drive to attract and train more skilled engineers to ensure they make a real difference to productivity and to communities across the UK.”

Notes for Editors

  • Royal Academy of Engineering
    As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information, please contact Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0636
E: Aaron Boardley