IChemE joins engineering profession’s call for a long-term UK industrial strategy

IChemE joins engineering profession’s call for a long-term UK industrial strategy

7th June 2024

The next government must commit to a long-term industrial strategy that draws on the UK’s strength in engineering, innovation, research and manufacturing, or risk continued low economic growth, according to the new policy priorities unveiled by the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) today.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) have joined forces with experts from 42 professional engineering organisations via NEPC – together representing more than 700,000 engineers across the UK – to assess the UK’s needs, which engineering can help to address, and how these are interconnected with the wider economy. In ‘Engineering a resilient and prosperous future: policy priorities for the next UK parliament’, the profession calls upon the next government to be bold, to take a holistic, long-term approach to tackling complex challenges like climate change and slow growth, and create strong policies on which the UK can build sustainable economic growth, helping to improve people's lives.

Reversing persistently low economic growth is essential and involves fostering innovation, supporting small businesses, and investing in strategic sectors. This will enable the UK to tackle climate change, to upgrade our aging infrastructure and to build warm and healthy homes. A long-term industrial strategy must also dovetail with a long-term plan to equip a skilled workforce to meet future demands in green and tech jobs.

The start of a new parliament presents the opportunity to take a bold, long-term, and holistic approach to tackling complex challenges. It also presents an opportunity to shape the role the UK plays in the responsible development of emerging and rapidly evolving technologies, using engineering approaches to ensure that they are designed rigorously and sustainably, and adopted where they have the maximum benefit. The NEPC document, directed to all political parties, outlines how engineers work to tackle complex challenges and how they can work with policy makers to best meet the UK’s needs. With engineering posts comprising nearly 20% of jobs nationally and the engineering economy representing 32% of total economic output, it plays a vital role in UK economic growth.

In order to fully leverage the UK’s impressive engineering and technology talents, says the NEPC, it must become a more attractive business destination. The policy priorities form a package that together can help grow the economy, protect the environment, and invest in the workforce and infrastructure of the future.

As well as an ambitious approach to industrial strategy, the NEPC also calls on the new government to create a framework for sustainable economic growth by taking a systems approach to policy:

• Redouble the commitment to net zero and accelerate the development and adoption of green technologies by driving action and instilling confidence through fixed targets to cut carbon emissions, incentivising demand reduction and technology development and adoption; prioritising a just transition through meaningful engagement with diverse communities; and accelerating green growth.

• Deliver a National Engineering and Technology Workforce Strategy by equipping the UK with the skilled workforce needed to meet the challenges of sustainability and technological advancement by delivering a long-term holistic plan encompassing all education stages, reskilling and upskilling, to deliver a diverse engineering and technology profession with the skills needed for the future.

• Futureproof UK infrastructure to deliver sustainable, resilient and healthy spaces by building on the National Infrastructure Assessment recommendations and joining up existing sub-national strategies to ensure infrastructure continues to deliver economic and societal benefits across the UK.

Duncan Lugton, IChemE Head of Policy and Impact, commented "Engineering has a critical role to play in the economy and in achieving a sustainable world. The Institution of Chemical Engineers, together with its partners in the National Engineering Policy Centre, is calling for comprehensive action to unlock the contribution of engineers for the benefit of the planet and the economy. Chemical engineers will be at the forefront of making the vision in this new report a reality - for instance, through the development and adoption of green technologies, and spearheading the rollout of technology to cut carbon emissions. IChemE will continue to promote that contribution through our engagement with policymakers and through our wider work with our members."

Professor Sir Jim McDonald GBE FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Engineers are drivers of innovation and economic opportunity. They leverage advances in research to develop and deliver new products, services and enterprises that generate jobs and value to society. More than eight million people work in the UK’s engineering economy and the profession generates up to an estimated £645bn gross value added to the economy annually. For the UK to leverage that impressive engineering and technological strength, the new government needs to pursue a clear industrial strategy, underpinned by large-scale targeted support to key sectors, as many of our competitor nations have succeeded in doing. The choice is clear: we must create an environment that supports companies here, or they will go elsewhere.”


Engineering a resilient and prosperous future: policy priorities for the next UK parliament

Demand for engineers increasing, with rapid growth in green jobs - EngineeringUK

Engineering Economy and Place, Royal Academy of Engineering, 2023 Engineering Economy and Place

Second National Infrastructure Assessment, National Infrastructure Committee, 2023


For more information please contact:

Ann Baylis, Communications Executive and PR Lead, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534477
e: abaylis@icheme.org

Dan Owens, Communications Executive, IChemE  
t: +44 (0) 1788 534458  
e: dowens@icheme.org

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, mathematics and economics in the process of turning raw materials into everyday, and more specialist, products. Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world. Energy, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the industry sectors and products where chemical engineering plays a central role.


The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) advances chemical engineering's contribution for the benefit of society. We facilitate the development of chemical engineering professionals and provide connections to a powerful network of around 30,000 members in more than 100 countries.

We support our members in applying their expertise and experience to make an influential contribution to solving major global challenges, and are the only organisation permitted to award Chartered Chemical Engineer status and Professional Process Safety Engineer registration.