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Engineering a resilient and prosperous future

Engineering a resilient and prosperous future

New NEPC report released today: 7th June 2024

The next government must commit to a long-term industrial strategy that draws on the UK’s strength in engineering, innovation, research and manufacturing, according to a new set of policy priorities unveiled by the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC), led by the Royal Academy of Engineering. In Engineering a resilient and prosperous future: policy priorities for the next UK parliament,(1) the engineering profession is calling for the next government to be bold, to take a holistic, long-term approach to tackling complex challenges like climate change and slow growth, creating strong policies on which the UK can build sustainable economic growth, helping to improve people's lives.

Engineering experts from 42 professional engineering organisations – together representing more than 700,000 engineers across the UK – have joined forces to assess the UK’s needs, which engineering can help to address, and how these are interconnected with the wider economy. Reversing persistently low economic growth is essential and involves fostering innovation, supporting small businesses, and investing in strategic sectors. This will enable the UK to tackle climate change, to upgrade our aging infrastructure and to build warm and healthy homes.

The NEPC document, directed to all political parties, outlines how engineers work to tackle complex challenges and how they can work with policy makers to best meet the UK’s needs. With engineering posts comprising nearly 20% of jobs nationally (3) and the engineering economy representing 32% of total economic output (4), it plays a vital role in UK economic growth.

In order to fully leverage the UK’s impressive engineering and technology talents, says the NEPC, it must become a more attractive business destination. The policy priorities form a package that together can help grow the economy, protect the environment, and invest in the workforce and infrastructure of the future. 

As well as an ambitious approach to industrial strategy, the NEPC also calls on the new government to create a framework for sustainable economic growth by taking a systems approach to policy:

  • Redouble the commitment to net zero and accelerate the development and adoption of green technologies by driving action and instilling confidence through fixed targets to cut carbon emissions, incentivising demand reduction and technology development and adoption; prioritising a just transition through meaningful engagement with diverse communities; and accelerating green growth.
  • Deliver a National Engineering and Technology Workforce Strategy by equipping the UK with the skilled workforce needed to meet the challenges of sustainability and technological advancement by delivering a long-term holistic plan encompassing all education stages, reskilling and upskilling, to deliver a diverse engineering and technology profession with the skills needed for the future.
  • Futureproof UK infrastructure to deliver sustainable, resilient and healthy spaces by building on the National Infrastructure Assessment recommendations (2) and joining up existing sub-national strategies to ensure infrastructure continues to deliver economic and societal benefits across the UK.

The start of a new parliament presents the opportunity to take a bold, long-term, and holistic approach to tackling these complex challenges, says the NEPC document. It also presents an opportunity to shape the role the UK plays in the responsible development of emerging and rapidly evolving technologies, using engineering approaches to ensure that they are designed rigorously and sustainably, and adopted where they have the maximum benefit.

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