17 October 2016

Engineering a future outside the European Union

EU report cover
The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has welcomed a report published today on behalf of the UK engineering community by Engineering the Future. The report applauds the government’s renewed focus on industrial strategy, but warns that Brexit must not choke off access to the engineering skills from across Europe that the UK economy needs.

Engineering the Future (EtF) is an alliance of the UK’s professional engineering organisations representing over 450,000 engineers, of which around 20,000 are IChemE members working in the UK’s chemical and process industries or academia.

The report, Engineering a future outside the EU: securing the best outcome for the UK, draws on wide-ranging consultation with engineers from all section of the profession, including academia, industry and the public sector. With engineering contributing at least £280 billion in gross value added to the economy – 20% of the total – the report flags up key issues that impact on the UK’s engineering capability as the government forms a view on the EU exit negotiations.

IChemE contributed to the formulation of the report with senior staff participation and member involvement. The Institution believes that the report provides a sound basis for productive engagement with UK government departments.

IChemE will continue to work with EtF on Brexit and other issues, and is keen to promote collaboration and constructive dialogue across the UK STEM landscape. It will also maintain close contact with its membership via the IChemE UK Board, UK Research Committee and Corporate Partners in order to identify any specific threats to the chemical engineering community as the Brexit negotiations unfold.

Royal Academy of Engineering’s President, Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, said:

“Engineering makes an enormous contribution to economic and social progress in the UK, and we have heard from a significant cross-section of the engineering profession that leaving the EU poses a real challenge to this contribution.

“For many we have consulted over the last two months, plans to trigger Article 50 raise questions about our ability to train enough skilled engineers to meet the country’s needs, to attract the brightest and best international talent to the UK to address specific skills shortages, and to collaborate with colleagues in non-UK European Union countries in a way that accelerates innovation that is of value to wider society.

”As government develops its plans for a renewed focus on industrial strategy, we hope it will use this opportunity to build on the UK’s existing strengths in engineering research, innovation and industry to grow their contribution to economic and social progress, and to invest in increasing the supply of skilled engineers necessary to sustain this growth.

“The UK engineering community is committed to building on its international reputation, and stands ready to support the government in securing from the negotiations the best possible outcome for the UK.”

IChemE’s Director, Andrew Furlong said:

“Our internal polling in March 2016 showed that a clear majority of our members would have preferred to remain within the EU. Nonetheless, IChemE respects the referendum decision. Brexit will impact on the entire STEM community in the UK and it's important that we speak to government with one voice. IChemE is fully supportive of EtF strategy. We welcome the report and will continue to play an active role in the conversation with policymakers.

“The negotiations have a long way to go and we will remain vigilant towards the emergence of any specific threats to the chemical engineering community. IChemE will maintain close contact with its members in industry, academia and in research. We will make additional representations based on firm evidence if necessary."

Following the publication of the report, IChemE will invite its members to submit their views on the negotiations. Those interested in participating should send an email to chemengmatters@icheme.org.

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).