Supporting students is vital for growth

The Government must provide more financial support for engineering students in order to prevent a damaging shortage of skilled graduates in the manufacturing, energy and transport sectors according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Stephen Tetlow, the Institution’s Chief Executive, said: “The Government says it wants this Budget to be the most pro-growth for a generation; investment in the manufacturing and engineering sectors has the potential to drive this growth in a sustained and balanced way.

“Rebalancing the economy means attracting bright young people into engineering and manufacturing at all levels to ensure that we have the skills we need for growth. So the work must start with the UK’s schoolchildren and students – otherwise there won’t be enough young, skilled engineers joining the workforce and the Government’s intent will be no more than words.”

Invest in skills

The Institution is calling on George Osborne to invest in engineering skills at all levels of education and specifically recommends contributing funds to provide informed, industry-led career advice in schools and reform what is currently an inadequate career advice system. It is also recommending providing greater funding for apprenticeships in vital strategic sectors, such as engineering, to ensure an increase in their uptake as part of the planned 100,000 apprenticeships per year by 2014.

Cuts in university tuition funds mean that many universities are likely to charge the full £9,000 tuition fees for their courses. At the moment they appear likely to levy those fees uniformly across all subjects.

Encourage progression

The Institution’s recommendations follow the recent Government commissioned Wolf Review of Vocational Education which called for proposed changes to funding and accountability regimes to remove the perverse incentives which currently encourage schools and colleges to steer young people into easy options, rather than ones which will help them progress.

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