Research Profile

Saturday, 21 September 2013

We need to engineer our way to economic recovery

James Dyson suggested that we were on the cusp of a new industrial revolution - and that we need to find ways to create many thousands more engineers. There is absolutely no doubt that that the UK needs to create more engineering graduates, but we must be careful not to overemphasise any subject or discipline, if growth in one area is at the  expense of other critical subjects. 

No one can argue with the importance of STEM subjects for economic recovery but businesses seeking to penetrate international markets also need the expertise of non-STEM graduates, for example in language, culture and human behaviour.

More importantly, we need to take steps to retain the talent that we do produce. Just last year a home office report highlighted that more professionals are emigrating, to what they see as more attractive countries to live and work. According to the report, 48% of the 149,000 British emigrants last year came from a professional background compared with 37% in 1991. 

Expanding the number of graduates our world-class higher education system produces can go some way to supporting a private-sector recovery. But to retain and attract the talent we need, we must offer a world-class working environment coupled with an attractive social and physical infrastructure. In short, somewhere people want to live as well as work.

This is a modified version of my letter published in the FT Weekend Sept 13

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