The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomes today’s budget announcement with its focus on productivity and investment in research, innovation and education to improve the economy for all.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says:

“I welcome the Chancellor’s Budget statement today, addressing some of the key issues that will help to secure the UK’s prosperity and productivity in the coming years. In addition to the increased investment in R&D announced earlier this week, I am also pleased that the Enterprise Investment Scheme is to be doubled, alongside a package of measures to boost the availability of long-term finance. This will give real support to growing businesses.

“Enhanced support for emerging technologies such as AI will help to attract and unlock investment in UK innovation.  However, we cannot take advantage of these rapidly growing new areas unless we equip people with the skills to understand and use them. I welcome initiatives to build and promote high-quality apprenticeships and to support the implementation of T-levels which will help to address the skills gap. This, along with new funding and incentives to boost mathematics and computer science education in schools and colleges, will equip the next generation of engineers with the skills needed to bring value to the economy.”

Investment in research and innovation

Setting ambitious and achievable targets for combined public and private investment in R&D clearly demonstrates the UK’s aspiration to be one of the best places in the world for research and innovation.

While the introduction of measures to increase the availability of patient capital is to be welcomed, it will be essential to ensure that the changes to the Enterprise Investment Scheme, which are strongly supported by the engineering community, do not reverse the central role they have played in contributing to the UK’s vibrant start-up ecosystem and the ability to attract and unlock investment in UK innovation.   

Investment in skills

The launch of a National Retraining Scheme to help people get new skills is welcomed. The focus on high quality approaches to retraining and lifelong learning is vital for engineering. We support investment in a comprehensive programme of upskilling developed in partnership with industry and training providers to ensure that the UK workforce at all levels, in the public and private sector and in all parts of the UK, has the skills needed to shape and participate in the industries of tomorrow.

The focus on digital skills is particularly welcomed. Industrial digitalisation is a massive opportunity for UK industry and therefore we welcome the much-needed support for enhancing digital skills at all levels. The ability of UK engineers to be confident and competent to a high level in digital skills will be pivotal to securing our competitiveness across a range of sectors. Therefore, the Academy welcomes the investment in computer science which is timely and hugely important for meeting the digital skills agenda.

The Academy supports the additional investment to support Further Education (FE) colleges to prepare for the introduction of T-levels. The government’s renewed focus on apprenticeships and technical education and giving employers a core role in specifying the knowledge and skills required for different occupations is positive for engineering. FE lecturers will need professional development and support to deliver the new T-levels through programmes, such as those delivered by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The Academy is working closely with the Department for Education and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation to provide independent advice on the core content for the new engineering and manufacturing T-level, to ensure that the widest possible range of employers and the professional engineering community have had an opportunity to shape the new curriculum for engineering technicians.

Notes for Editors

1.    There is broad consensus across the political spectrum to increase total investment in UK research and development. The Government has committed to meet a target of 2.4% of GDP invested in UK R&D within ten years, and a longer-term goal of 3%.

The UK National Academies have produced a document outlining the current R&D investment landscape in the UK, why a 3% target is important for the UK and factors that should be considered to deliver it.

2.    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: Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: jane.sutton@raeng.org.uk