Engineering and Infrastructure

A campaign by engineers is being launched this week for more UK infrastructure spending. The cost of government borrowing by issuing bonds is at its lowest rate in modern times. The Deputy Prime Minister has said that infrastructure spending since 2010 remains too low, with estimates that the coalition government cut its capital spending over £8billion further than Labour had planned.
“The Government is missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in big construction projects and risks letting national infrastructure wither through underspending, one of Britain’s foremost industrialists has warned. Sir John Parker, the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, is also calling for a resurection of the Infrastructure Planning Commission, a short-lived innovation of the previous Labour administration that was scrapped by the coalition. Next week Sir John … will launch the institution’s campaign to get the Government to put engineering at the heart of its growth strategy.” The Times, 9 February 2013, p67.
There can be a class snobbishness about engineers – not quite the same grade as, say, a doctor or architect; and worse than that, a vocational career which is still sometimes seen as second-best, as coming from a lack, a deficit. So let’s hear it for engineers and for engineering.
There should be more women engineers, more recruits from Black and ethnic minority communities, and including more disabled people and people from the LGBT community. Perhaps it needs a celebrity engineering professor on television to provide a role model to encourage more young new entrants. Brunel was good, but he is getting a bit old now.
The German system of a respected ladder of qualifications for vocational trades including engineering underpins their success in manufacturing and construction. We should take a similar approach to engineering and construction skills in the UK.

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