The UK’s future prosperity will depend on the creation of a more diverse economic base, which requires a re-balancing of the economy in favour of hi-tech, high value productive industries. That was the topic of a meeting of the Associate Parliamentary Engineering Group which brought together engineers and Parliamentarians to debate the way forward.

Chaired by Bill Olner MP, the meeting was addressed by Helen Alexander, President of the Confederation of British Industry and Lord Browne of Madingley, President of the Academy.

“The UK is a great place to do business in and from” said Lord Browne. “We have some of the best companies and products in aerospace, life sciences and design and construction. Our focus should be on reinventing our success and learning from our failure. The impact of the low carbon economy will be enormous but society and business will benefit.”

There were, he pointed out, three critical issues:

  • choosing the right industrial sectors to build on our national strengths in science and technology, address the grand challenges and boost GDP;
  • aligning the regulatory framework and incentives to support investment in those sectors; and
  • an education system that educates and trains engineers at all levels with sufficient skills to be employable.

Lord Browne described how the professional engineering community had formed an alliance, Engineering the future, to support and promote this agenda.

Outlining the role of the CBI in promoting business and industry, Helen Alexander pointed out that engineering and manufacturing form 13% of UK’s GDP - more than the finance sectors.

“The digital economy will provide a seismic societal and business change which we must encourage,” she said. She called for a coherent, joined up strategy across government to make the UK attractive to the international supply chain. Keeping tax low, aligning the investment in research in universities and creating skills at all levels would be the priorities for any incoming Government, she said. She called for a culture of learning from failure and a drive to “get engineering back into the nation’s imagination”.

The chairman, Bill Olner MP, thanked the invited audience for their enthusiastic and wide-ranging questions, which, he said, reflected his own lifelong passion for engineering and its crucial contribution to the life of the nation.

Notes for editors

  1. The President of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the President of the CBI addressed the Associate Parliamentary Engineering Group on Tuesday 26 January in Committee Room 15 of the House of Commons. Bill Olner MP was in the chair.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton