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What the General Election & Queen’s Speech means for engineers
A couple of days later than planned, the Queen’s Speech took place on Wednesday setting out the government’s plans for the next two years. This year’s speech follows a snap election called for by Theresa May which resulted in no clear party majority.
With the highest number of seats (albeit less than the magic 326 number), the Conservatives have reached out to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to bring up the numbers and form a majority.
Importantly, no official final deal has yet been reached between the Conservatives and the DUP. Whilst the nation awaits the details of the outcome, some of our recruitment specialists look at how some key engineering sectors may be affected by these recent political events and what this means for the people working within this profession.
The UK aerospace industry creates and safeguards more than 200,000 high-value jobs (Aerospace Technology Institute 2017) and is worth over £31 billion a year (EngineeringUK State of Engineering 2017 report). In recent years the government’s support for the space industry has increased and now a new Space Industry Bill has been put forward to help ensure the UK remains a world leader in commercial satellites.
Ben Birch, Aerospace Department Manager, gives his view on the proposed Bill:
“This is great news for two burgeoning sectors – the UK satellite big players and their supply chains will benefit, but so will innovative businesses of all sizes and shapes looking for a piece of the spaceflight market which is set to grow to a value of £25 billion by 2020. I love the fact the UK is jostling to be front and centre in space!”
As part of the government’s ambition for the UK to remain a world leader in new industries like electric cars, a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill has been proposed.
The new measure would see more electric vehicle charging points installed at motorway services and the formation of a set of common technical and operational standards. It would also extend compulsory motor vehicle insurance to the use of automated vehicles.
On this, Les Hewlett, Automotive Department Manager says:
“I welcome the news that car insurance will be extended to driverless cars. It has long been said that we need to get the legal framework right before automated vehicles become the norm. While we know the cars will not become commonplace over night, this is a move in the right direction. As a result, we anticipate more manufacturers to ramp up their automated vehicle production. This will require a broad range of skills, from those who have worked in automotive engineering, through to those in the technology, telco and the IT space, which we think will create a lot of new opportunities.“
Alongside a mention of unfair tenant fees and unaffordable housing, the Queen’s Speech included a simple statement about housing: “Proposals will be brought forward to…help ensure more homes are built.”
Stuart Minchin, Director of Buildings, shares his thoughts on what this and the general election outcome means for recruitment in construction:
“Affordable housing has long been on the government’s agenda and as investment in housing has risen, so has the demand for construction workers. Unfortunately, the demand has not been met and the sector continues to experience huge skills shortages – EngineeringUK forecasts that 265,000 skilled entrants will be required annually to meet the demand for engineering enterprises through to 2024.”
“A main concern from the unexpected result of the general election is how the sector will be able to hire overseas talent post-Brexit to supplement the skills we have in the UK. Currently, 8% of the construction workforce comes from the EU (RICS 2017) so employers will want to know whether these jobs will be protected once the UK leaves the European Union.”
The scale of High Speed 2 is larger than any project the UK has seen before and the lifetime of the project is expected to continue for a further 16 years. Rail Department Manager Graham Day explains what a new HS2 Bill could mean for the project and for jobs within it:
“With the government proposal for a High Speed 2 Phase 2A Bill to accelerate the project, we could see demand for key rail and technology skills ramp up sooner than expected.”
“Over the anticipated project lifecycle, HS2 will rely on the skills of thousands of talented engineering professionals. At a time when the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU are yet to be determined, including the country’s ability to hire specialist skills from the European market, those employers in the rail sector will be keen to hear how the Immigration Bill announced in the Queen’s speech will impact this.”
Commenting how the jobs landscape might look following the general election, Ben Hough, Nuclear Department Manager says:
“Given the Conservative Party’s support of the Nuclear New Build program, we would anticipate a demand for skilled engineers in this sector over the coming years. An ageing workforce within the nuclear sector continues to create a shortfall of engineering skills which could be addressed by sourcing overseas talent. Following the announcement of the Immigration Bill in the Queen’s Speech today employers in the sector will be keen to hear further details about how it might impact the country’s ability to hire specialist skills from Europe.”
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