Press release

Engineers welcome budget's emphasis on skills

04 April 2011

Europe’s largest engineering institution has welcomed measures contained in the UK Government's Budget to support engineering as part of its plan for economic growth.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is particularly pleased that there will be additional funding for University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and apprenticeships.

The Government’s announcement of £180 million for up to 50,000 additional apprenticeship places over the next four years will go someway to bridging the current skills gap. A pledge to expand the UTCs programme and establish at least 24 new colleges is also welcomed. The IET helped to devise UTCs with Lord Baker and looks forward to assisting in their continued roll-out.

“The announcement on UTCs is great news”, said Dr Tony Whitehead, Director of Governance and Policy at the IET.  “Key to their success will be how they are perceived. The great thing about them is that everyone, including universities and employers, are taking them seriously as a robust, enjoyable way of developing skills. The Government must not undermine this by a simplistic emphasis on academic routes and qualifications.

“Whilst growth in apprenticeships is good, the focus must be on high quality training in the sectors that will bring about economic growth, such as engineering.

“In this regard, we particularly welcome the support for business consortia to set up and maintain advanced and higher apprenticeships schemes, supported by grants, creating a further 10,000 apprenticeships.

“In the past, when the engineering sector was dominated by large companies, employers themselves were able to put in place progression routes. Now, with SMEs more prevalent, government must play a greater role.”

The IET is also delighted that the Government has announced a new international prize for engineering. With the active backing of UK industry, it is hoped the prize will inspire a renaissance of engineering achievement, which is essential to create sustainable economic growth. The IET hopes that in due course the prize will be held in the same esteem as the Nobel prizes.

Media enquiries to:

Robert Beahan, press officer
T: +44 (0)1438 767336
M: +44 (0)7595 400912

Jonny Holdcroft, press officer
T: +44 (0)1438 765608
M: +44 (0)7515 814884

Notes to editors:

  • The IET is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers with over 150,000 members in 127 countries.
  • For more information, visit
  • For more information about the IET’s policy work on skills visit Factfiles.