The Institution of Engineering and Technology has welcomed the Government’s recognition of engineering apprenticeships in the Autumn Statement, and how they are important to fill critical skills gaps in the UK innovation and technology sector.
Head of Policy Stephanie Baxter said that in addition to the £50m investment through the Apprenticeship Growth Sector Pilot announced in the Autumn Statement, “engineering employers say they need agility within the fund for upskilling and reskilling to allow their workforce to be agile and adaptive to new technologies such as AI and Digital Twins.
“The Institution of Engineering and Technology is therefore calling on Government to allow employers to use unspent levy funding to provide short tailored courses (micro-credentials) in cutting edge technologies.
“It is also important that the Chancellor has committed to wider infrastructure investment to support the UK meet its net-zero targets. However, manufacturers in the UK are facing critical skill shortages in the face of rapid technological advancement: 21% report skill shortages in adapting to new equipment. This hinders our ability to harness digitalisation and new technologies for innovation. Therefore, government must ensure that the investment addresses these skill gaps to gain maximum benefit from the investment.”
However Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) called the Statement “disappointing for public services”.
“While we welcome the announcement of the Round 3 Levelling Up funding announced on Monday and increased support for housing and devolution, we need to understand the details behind other elements, such as the nutrient mitigation scheme and changes to planning,” he said. “Many local authorities have reached the end of the line when it comes to their capacity to absorb spending cuts without impacting on essential services. The public and the most vulnerable in our communities can see that many of the services they rely on just aren’t working. All the innovation and new practices we introduce are no longer enough to bridge the gap between resource and delivery.
“Local government works in partnership with national government. We are responsible for maintaining and delivering infrastructure, local roads, recycling and waste services on which each and every one of us and our families depend; as well as delivering regeneration and economic growth thereby increasing prosperity. We work with government to ensure national priorities are delivered locally and we will continue to deliver for the communities we serve, but there is no hiding the fact we are under intense pressure and the continuing impact on services will be felt by everyone.”
From industry, Jon Lawes, Managing Director at Novuna Vehicle Solutions, told Highways News: “Policymakers have been sending mixed signals on the UK’s transition, so the plans announced in the Autumn Statement to earmark £2 billion for zero-emission vehicle development, reform electricity grid access and support business investment are welcome.
“Now the government must show how this will lead to concrete outcomes, including with its promised consultation on fast-streaming EV charging rollout. There is an urgent need to boost net-zero infrastructure around the UK, and improve EV purchase incentives. It is vital that these measures translate into local investment which provides businesses and consumers with the confidence to make the switch.”
Ken McMeikan, CEO of Moto Hospitality, said: “I am extremely encouraged by the Government’s decision to transform the planning system in favour of delivering low-carbon energy projects and the prioritisation of EV charging hubs. This will go a long way to removing some of the biggest barriers that industry has been facing within EV and is very positive news for everyone involved in driving forward the electric future on the UK’s roads.”
“Alongside this, the acceptance of the Winser review’s recommendations in full to significantly increase capacity and access to power for businesses like Moto, is vital to allow us to continue to invest in rapidly expanding our network of Ultra Rapid Chargers at sites across the UK.
“This goes right to the heart of what Moto has been calling for and we are delighted that many of the actions we called for in our ‘Motofesto’ have featured in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
“While we wholeheartedly welcome the announcement, accelerating the availability of sufficient power to major travel hubs like Motorway Service Areas needs to be made a national priority and we stand ready to work with the Government during its consultation to feed into its plans and ensure they are delivered as quickly and effectively as possible.”
(Picture – Amey)