IET responds to the Autumn Statement
Alex Taylor, Head of Policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said:
“The Chancellor has set out his ambition to drive economic growth, skills and jobs in the UK. There are two major, cross-sector challenges that will achieve this – delivering Net Zero, and building a responsible digital future. Addressing these challenges correctly will drive economic growth, skills, jobs, and make the UK a world leader in emerging technology.
“As the Chancellor correctly identified, skills for the modern economy underpins strong economic growth. New research shows that digital skills are among the most important. Among those engineering employers reporting a digital skills gap in their workforce, 49% say it harms productivity and 35% say it harms innovation. The commitment to increase schools funding by £2.3 bn in the coming years is welcome, but these funds must be used correctly – to provide young people with the skills to succeed in the modern economy, such as digital skills. We need to really focus investment on upskilling the existing workforce so they can adapt to new technology. To be a science superpower, the UK needs to tackle the digital skills gaps that will inhibit innovation.
“A focus on energy independence and efficiency is welcome at this critical time for the UK, but we also need to consider the whole system. This means recognising the interdependencies of systems such as transport, healthcare, manufacturing and energy. Therefore, changes in the UK need to be overseen by a system architect that has oversight and accountability for net-zero to avoid unintended consequences. We need to consider new builds, alongside a large-scale drive to retrofit existing builds, which will increase the UK’s energy security, create jobs, and grow the economy.
“It’s very concerning that there will be road tax on electric vehicles (EVs) from 2025 as this sends the wrong message about commitments and incentives for net-zero. The transition to EVs is critical in the long-term in helping reduce emissions from petrol and diesel engines. New IET research out this week has demonstrated a clear financial barrier to this being a straightforward process, amplified by the cost-of-living crisis. Government should be providing further support and incentives for EV uptake if they are serious about meeting their 2030 net zero goals.
“Levelling up is a fundamental part of both sustainability and a digital future for the UK. We must ensure that there is a fair route to net-zero for everyone and that new technology like 5G ensures that it improves connectivity in all areas of the UK by 2030. This will bring its own economic benefits, and provide health and social improvements for individuals.”