Dr Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to today’s Autumn Statement:

Education and skills

“Proposals to cut National Insurance for companies employing apprentices under 25 is encouraging, but we need to ensure that all apprenticeships meet the rigorous standards of engineering apprenticeships and really do provide people with the skills and knowledge to prosper. These apprenticeships should be in industries where there is a real potential for jobs, like engineering, and that standards are verified through accreditation by bodies such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.”

“Plans to invest £20 million to improve careers advice and support for young people, while positive, fall far short of what is needed. UK careers advice for teenagers is sorely lacking and too few young people have real opportunity to find out about the range of career opportunities on offer. Furthermore, in the absence of professional face-to-face support, the people who end up providing the careers advice rarely have the experience or knowledge needed to provide informed advice to students. Good careers advice provided by teachers with an understanding of business and industry in their local area is an engine of social mobility. It is also vital for ensuring we get people with the right skills entering industries like engineering, which is so vital for our future economic success.”

An Institution poll earlier this year found that 42% of the public think careers advice/guidance in UK secondary schools is poor, with 26% saying it’s adequate.

Manufacturing

“A number of proposals were announced to help smaller businesses access finance and invest in R&D and the investment £5.9 billion into the UK’s research infrastructure over 2016-21 is encouraging.

“But while the UK is leading the way in many areas on R&D, such as the creation and development of advanced materials, the country lags behind countries like South Korea in bringing new products to market and commercialising them. More support is needed from UKTI and the Innovation Catapults to bring in business for these small companies.”

Transport and infrastructure

“The investment planned for the UK’s road network is clearly good news but we need to ensure that the Government follows an integrated approach to the country’s transport infrastructure, which takes into account new developments like HS2 and Crossrail. We also need cross-party agreement on major infrastructure projects, as the country cannot afford to start/stop on these major investments and we need confidence and a long-term vision to ensure we have the right skills available to deliver these projects.”