Party leaders have their say on science and engineering

Party leaders indicated in open letters on Friday what they will do for engineering and science ahead of publishing their manifestos in April in the run up to the general election.

In his response to the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), David Cameron, UK's prime minister, said that a Conservative government would push for infrastructure growth and research, nurturing engineering talent, while Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition, saw science and engineering as a central part of Labour’s plan to create more high skill jobs.

Mr Cameron said his Policy Unit is considering all areas in advance of the party’s manifesto.

“We will be setting out our policy plans for the next Parliament in due course, however I can assure you that making sure we have a world-class science and engineering industry is part of the Conservative’s long-term economic plan.

“In government, we have set aside £4.6 billion each year to 2015-16 for home-grown science and engineering infrastructure and research. And we have committed £5.9 billion of capital to support scientific distinction up to 2021 — the longest investment pledge to science capital in decades,” Mr Cameron said.

Ed Miliband raised the issue of skill shortages in STEM subjects and the shortfall of engineers – which E&T wrote about in this month’s issue – and set out a series of education reforms to address it.

“To do that Labour will implement a radical set of reforms to create a clear gold standard vocational route from schools right through to university, including measures to introduce new Technical Degrees,” he said.

Industry figures have called on the next Government to take steps to establish the UK as a global leader and introduce new policy that would benefit country’s economy and improve our day to day lives.

The IET believes that leading the way in next generation communication networks is the way to go, it said in its General Election Campaign put forward in March.

Professor Will Stewart, from the IET, said: “The UK is already a global leader in e-commerce and we believe there is a genuine opportunity for it to become a leader in developing and introducing the next generation of mobile and fixed networks too. So we are calling on the next Government to introduce legislation and incentives to make this happen.”

The IET also said the UK must make energy efficiency a higher political priority and introduce long-term energy policies to enable the UK to become a global leader in climate change mitigation.

The full responses from six political parties can be found here.

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