INVESTING AND developing more engineering technicians is crucial to maintaining UK competitiveness in world business, science and innovation minister Lord Sainsbury said last week.
He was addressing 140 business leaders and professional engineering institutions at the ICE as part of the Register for success - brighter futures for professional engineering technicians conference.
'The lack of technicians and intermediate skills has an effect on the UK economy, ' said Sainsbury. He quoted Ernst & Young statistics from last February which showed that UK output per hour worked is 30% less than in the US, France or Germany.
'A fifth of this productivity gap could be filled by technicians, ' he said, adding that to compete with India and China innovation from the whole UK workforce was required - 'not just the few people at the top'.
Past Institution of Incorporated Engineers chairman Lord Trefgarne added that productivity was hampered by graduates carrying out lower skilled, nongraduate work and incorporated engineers doing technician work.
Sainsbury praised Engineering Council (UK)'s professional standard for the Eng Tech qualification, which was revamped in May this year to allow the membership grade to be more widely understood and appreciated.
He described engineering technicians as 'professionals in their own right' with a standard of their own - 'not an addendum to chartered and incorporated engineers'. Engineering technicians design, develop, commission and decommission projects as well as operate and maintain facilities or plant, he said - 'skills which will be important in the age of competition ahead of us'.