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Volume 590: debated on Thursday 8 January 2015

The Government are making a series of interventions to increase the number of British engineers—from trailblazer apprenticeships in engineering, manufacturing and automotive sectors to national colleges in advanced manufacturing, high-speed rail, nuclear, oil, gas and wind, with £30 million of funding to address employers’ skills shortages in engineering and £200 million of capital investment in science, technology, engineering and maths teaching facilities in higher education.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. What more is he doing to inspire younger people, particularly younger women, to take up engineering careers?

I am aware of my hon. Friend’s interest in the issue. Harrogate college recently benefited from significant investment in vocational education. He asks how we promote the message about engineering, particularly to women, who are massively under-represented in the sector. I pay tribute to the STEM network of volunteers; there are about 28,000 of them, and 40% are women. We hope that through that process of campaigning, and visits to schools and education institutions, we will gradually turn this unsatisfactory situation round.

The UK automotive industry has had another good year, which is welcomed across the House, but it now needs to recruit even more engineers. What is the Automotive Council UK doing to promote the industry to the next generation of engineers?

The Automotive Council UK is one of the success stories of industrial strategy. There is a great deal of commitment from industry and, indeed, on both sides of the House. The talent retention scheme is working well: if engineers are lost in particular sectors of the economy, they are speedily re-employed elsewhere and the skills base—which, as my hon. Friend implies, is inadequate—is maintained.