How Will the 2017 Budget Impact Engineering?
With the last budget under the leadership of Teresa May being dogged with u-turn claims, this Autumn offering was long awaited, and for many, it was watched with trepidation and uncertainty. Engineering is a sector that is not often reported on in the mainstream media in relation to any direct or implied impacts from budget announcements, but it is fair to say this November’s offering has left the industry feeling optimistic - if plans are followed through it could be an auspicious time.
Green Issues Meet Cutting Edge Technology
An issue that has been in the media since September is that of cleaner more environmentally friendly transportation network. In September, a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 whipped up a media storm as the government took steps to address poor air quality issues. This week Philip Hammond backed up the Tory commitment when his budget pledges included a £400M pot being set aside to increase the electric car charging infrastructure across the nation. While this is in part a step towards the issues of climate change reversal it also symbolises his commitment and enthusiasm for the driverless car. This cutting-edge development may be met with some opposition regarding safety fears but it is safe to say Hammond certainly sees it as a start when he said: "There is perhaps no technology as symbolic of the revolution gathering pace around us as driverless vehicles, today we step up our support for it.”
Green Driving Gaining Momentum
Electric vehicles have been gaining in popularity for some time now but so far have flown under the radar. With the government making such generous pledges towards the advancement of the technology this low-key revolution looks set to hit the big time. It is no coincidence that September also saw the billionaire engineering mogul James Dyson make his own media gathering announcement. He has thrown the company hat into the electric vehicle ring, by confirming that the company will be diversifying into car manufacture with its first fully electric offering being set for release in 2020.
This revelation came hot on the heels of a leaked report, that subsequently vanished as rapidly as it surfaced that claimed Dyson would receive treasury backing to develop a new battery operated vehicle. Works would be carried out in Wilshire at their headquarters, generating over 500 positions mostly in engineering, and creating an investment in the area of 174m.
A Boost to the Industry
Whether or not the facts from the leaked document are correct, the budget commitment to green energy from grants to private individuals, charging infrastructure and new CO2 free public transport it is clear there will be a positive effect on engineering. The race to create the most cost-effective, energy-efficient vehicles and the network needed to support them is sure to see an increase in jobs for the sector. With shortages already in the field, it is now paramount, we draw more young people into an engineering career and clearly showcase the many and varied roles on offer. Just days before the budget, on the 16th of November, the government made a further announcement that we now know to be another piece in the puzzle that became a completed picture with the chancellor's confirmation of their commitment as the budget was presented on Wednesday.
Starting next year a 12-month campaign will be implemented that aims to encourage parents, teachers and young people from 7-16 to realise the potential of a career in engineering. The overriding aim is to cast the net wider to recruit a pool of new talent in order to close the skills gap and meet what we now know to be a certain demand for even more roles within this vast and varied industry. With climate change being offered as a specific project, one of seven being funded by the UK Space Agency, green issues will be brought to the forefront. Meaning that we should be seeing a generation of new engineers who have already had their interest in the role of engineering in climate change reversal piqued, and therefore be ideally placed to be working in these new positions across the country.
A Positive Budget for Engineers
With other funds earmarked for enhancements to the rail network, and local authorities being offered discounted loans for any projects deemed to be ‘high-value infrastructure projects’, engineering looks set to be at the cutting edge of all these advancements. We can safely say that this was one budget the industry was delighted to receive.
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