Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Cable highlights need to invest in skills

Business secretary Vince Cable today highlighted the need to boost investment in engineering skills and training as part of the push drive growth into the UK economy.

Addressing delegates at the Association of Construction and Engineering annual conference in London, Cable admitted that the UK’s “poor” quality infrastructure was holding back the economy and said government now acknowledged the need to invest.

But he warned that a lack of skills and expertise in the engineering sector risks holding back the delivery of that investment and slowing the rate of economic growth.

“Often we can’t do what we want to do because we can’t find the right skills,” he said. “We need an expansion in support for apprentiships and a better understanding of vocational education. We are still desperately short of trained engineers.”

Bam Nuttall chief executive Steve Fox agreed that there was a problem at apprentice level but argued that the problem was not one of opportunity. “The problem is finding young people in the UK who want to train as apprentices,” he said. “The entire education system is still geared towards academic success.”

Cable accepted Fox’s argument. “There is no lack of interest or motivation [to train in engineering],” he said, highlighting that despite recent introduction of tuition fees, university demand for engineering courses had held up. “But it is correct that a lot of the problems [or lack of skills] do go back to the education system.”

He said the new tunnelling and underground academy in London was an example of what needed to happen. “We have to invest quite heavily in training. We need a pipeline of people coming through,” he said.

Readers' comments (1)

  • We also need to invest more in skills at a professional level. It is fair to say that university demand for engineering courses has held up, but we are not employing the graduates and training them in the numbers required to sustain the profession.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.