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Government needs more engineers, says its chief scientific advisor

The government’s chief scientific advisor John Beddington this week told ICE Council that Whitehall needed to employ more engineers.

He said that although pressure on public finances meant it was a “tough climate” for recruitment, he was aware that many engineers were simply put off from central government careers.

“We really want to enhance the attraction of government employment to engineers.”

John Beddington

“We really want to enhance the attraction of government employment to engineers,” he said.

But Beddington said he was unconvinced about the need for a separate chief engineering officer role. “If there was a permanent chief engineer as well as a chief scientist I think that we would miss out on what is a genuine continuum between science and engineering,” he said.

Beddington’s address to Council was the first time a chief scientific advisor has spoken to the ICE Council. It was his first address to any engineering institution since he took office in January 2008.

He highlighted the key challenges of the 21st century and focused on the role that science and engineering would have to play in tackling issues such as energy demand, climate change, food security and water scarcity.

“How does engineering and science help in preventing and adapting to this perfect storm scenario?” he asked Council.

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