Industry business association ACE, which represents over 800 consultancy and engineering companies working in the built and natural environment, today welcomed many of chancellor Gordon Brown's Budget spending commitments.
But ACE also expressed concern for recruitment and retention prospects for the industry over the chancellor's plans to sell-off the Student Loan book.In particular it welcomed the announcement of increased spending on public facilities, defence and infrastructure from £42bn this year rising to £60bn by 2012.Chief executive of ACE Nelson Ogunshakin said: 'Many of the chancellor's announcements will be welcomed by consultancy and engineering firms. Commitments to increase spending in schools, hospitals, security and defence and infrastructure should be good news for our industry, as is the announcement that public investment in science will rise from £5bn this year to £6.3bn by 2010-11.'ACE is also pleased to see the chancellor's commitment to international development with the £50M pledge for a 10-country initiative across central Africa to prevent the destruction of the rain forest and also the planned £800M for the Environmental Transformation Fund. We look forward to seeing the details of all these pledges in due course.'The organisation has voiced concerns over the decision to undertake a £6bn sale of the Student Loan Book in light of the recruitment and retention issues that are high on the agenda within the industry. 'If this leads to a harsher repayment regime for graduates it could make it even harder to attract young people into engineering. Recruitment and retention is a key challenge for our sector and although we welcome the Budget's commitment to providing a training wage for 60,000 16 to 17-year-olds, we hope that the Student Loan Book sell-off will not make that challenge even harder,' said Ogunshakin.