A new report by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Metro Dynamics, Engineering Economy & Place, has revealed that engineering represents 32% of total national economic output and 26% of jobs nationally, but warns that, without action to implement a place-based approach to engineering policy, the UK risks hindering the growth of its economy.
Engineering Economy & Place aims to enhance understanding of the role of engineering across the UK economy, which impacts multiple sectors, from manufacturing, software and R&D to engineers in non-engineering industries like financial services and media. The new data is intended as a tool to inform future policy decisions on how to share the benefits of engineering across society and help the UK to achieve its engineering, science and technology ambitions. The report’s interactive dashboard explores, for the first time, how much, what type, where and in what context engineering is happening and enables places to understand the role that engineering could play in their local economies. While many of the strongest local engineering economies generating high value can be found in the South East, there are also several places across the Midlands, North West and Scotland which are performing above average, and high-value hidden gems to be found in South Derbyshire, North Warwickshire and Ribble Valley.
While the new data paints a detailed picture of the differences between engineering in different regions and local areas, and is designed for local policymakers to use, some broad conclusions about how to address regional imbalances in engineering’s contribution to the UK economy can be drawn:
Additional key findings of the report include:
Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering said:
“Engineering is at the core of the UK’s industrial DNA – it is no wonder that we have a proud history of innovation. This snapshot of the current engineering landscape shows that engineers are drivers of economic opportunity – from R&D to delivering products and services that generate jobs, drive our economy and create value for society. The UK simply cannot become a science and technology superpower without first becoming an engineering superpower. Without a place-based approach to engineering policy, the UK risks maintaining the status quo that currently hinders the potential of its economy – with regional imbalance, city centres disconnected from surrounding areas and untapped capacity for innovation and production.
“The report highlights that additional support for enterprise infrastructure across the country is essential for the benefits of engineering innovation to be shared more evenly. Our ambition is to expand our network of Enterprise Hubs to support engineering-led growth and opportunity in local communities and increase the number of engineering startups in those areas.
“We hope that this new framework for analysing engineering’s contribution to our broader economy will be a useful tool to inform future policy and decision-making for local and national success.”