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Engineering and Manufacturing Careers

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 9 June 2011

1. What steps he plans to take to encourage young people to take up careers in engineering and manufacturing. (57776)

8. What steps he plans to take to encourage young people to take up careers in engineering and manufacturing. (57784)

We are funding STEMNET, a programme that encourages young people to look at the possibilities offered by science, technology, engineering and mathematics—STEM—study and employment; we are providing a £180 million package that will see 50,000 new higher apprenticeships in sectors including STEM-related industries; and, of course, the main incentive is good manufacturing jobs, which is why I welcome the announcements yesterday and today from Nissan and BMW of large new investments in British manufacturing industry.

I obviously welcome my right hon. Friend’s interest in both areas and the interest of organisations such as Engineering UK, which has a fantastic route map on its website, showing exactly what one has to do to get from school into engineering. May I encourage Ministers, however, to work with the Department for Education to ensure that, as part of the engagement between employers and schools, we also have one-to-one and face-to-face careers advice for school leavers, so that they receive personalised support in the choices that they make?

Yes, my colleague is absolutely right. Indeed, I was at the Royal Academy of Engineering during the week, talking about how we strengthen that interface between education and the engineering industry, and as regards the careers service my colleague the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning has already written to schools, reminding them of their statutory responsibilities under the new careers service as it develops.

Does the Secretary of State agree that careers advice should start at age 12, be delivered by experienced professional and independent advisers, and be available throughout every year of education?

Again, my colleague is absolutely right. The careers service is fundamentally important. My Department and, in particular, my colleague the Minister for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning are talking to careers professionals about how to roll out a properly accredited system of careers advice and, indeed, about co-locating careers advice with the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus in order to ensure that the service is properly integrated.

Does the Secretary of State agree that Members should set an example to young people with an interest in manufacturing, and will he encourage all Members from all parts to join the campaign Made by Britain, whereby we find innovative, imaginative and new products in every constituency in the country and put them in a virtual Crystal Palace to show that we can still do manufacturing in this country?

The hon. Gentleman has already described his scheme to me, and it sounds an exciting project. I have identified several potential candidates in my constituency, and it sits alongside many other very good initiatives that are taking place, including for example the engineering prize, which is being launched with the support of leading UK companies.

I join the Secretary of State in welcoming the tremendous news this week of the excellent investment from BMW Mini and Nissan. That of course builds on the initiatives of the Automotive Council, which has been so successful and was set up by the previous Labour Government. Also set up by the previous Labour Government was Manufacturing Insight, an organisation dedicated to bringing young people into engineering and manufacturing, which this Government have scrapped unfortunately. Why did the Secretary of State make that decision?

I am not sure I should take lectures on manufacturing industry from a representative of the party that presided over the biggest decline in manufacturing of any major country, but none the less the hon. Gentleman is right that there are some good legacies. One of them is the Automotive Council, which works extremely well and contributes very positively to the supply chain. I welcome that.