The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomes the government’s support in today’s Budget for innovation in engineering and science as part of its plan for growth and reiterates the need for improved skills at all levels.

Professor Matthew Harrison, Director of Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, says:

"There has never been a better time to set a budget for growth. The UK leads the world in areas of advanced manufacturing and our manufacturing base needs support to strengthen its position further. We welcome government support for initiatives such as the EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing bringing universities and industry together to drive progress.

“But a growth agenda also means investing in the skills of the UK's prime asset- our people. Years of work from successive governments has raised the status of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) in our schools. Young people now know that maths and science qualifications open doors to meaningful destinations. We have to build on that first big step by ensuring that the next step for a young person: an apprenticeship, a college course, a University place, is designed to equip them with 21st Century skills. With most of the education system currently under review or reform, we must take this opportunity to be radical.

“Today we have a skills system that is overly complex and impossible for students, parents and employers to navigate. We need a simpler, clearer system designed with the help of employers, the professions, colleges and universities to connect the right people with the right education and training. This can be done. But if we squander this chance we will lose the future innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and social pioneers that the UK will rely on as the drivers of growth."

The Academy also welcomes news in The Plan for Growth that the government is championing a new international prize for engineering. With the active backing of UK industry, the Academy hopes that the prize will inspire a renaissance of engineering achievement, which is essential to create sustainable economic growth.

This international prize will complement the existing £50,000 MacRobert Award, the UK’s biggest prize for engineering innovation. The MacRobert Award is awarded by the Academy in recognition of top-class British innovation coupled with commercial success and benefit to society.

Lord Browne of Madingley, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says:

“We warmly welcome the formation of a new international prize for engineering as a stimulus for ingenuity and endeavour. Indeed, our Academy was formed 35 years ago to champion the very values which the prize seeks to reward – a spirit of daring and originality in designing and enabling a better future using the fruits of scientific discovery.

“Inspirational engineering is everywhere, from the new Olympic venues for London 2012 to the amazing functionality of the latest mobile phones. Only through engineering will the great challenges of our age be met, such as secure supplies of water, food and energy for all and addressing the threat of global warming. The creative engineering effort going into solving these problems is bound to generate worthy future winners of the new prize.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Plan for Growth is at - see page 88 for mention of the engineering prize.
  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