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IET welcomes apprenticeship, AI skills, nuclear and R&D funding measures announced in the Spring Budget 2024

2 min read Partner content

Responding to the measures announced in the Spring Budget 2024, Stephanie Baxter, Head of Policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said:

“The Institution of Engineering and Technology welcomes today’s Spring Budget announcements on nuclear, AI skills, apprenticeships and R&D investment.

“Further developing the UK’s nuclear capacity, particularly in small modular reactor development will be critical to support the move towards net-zero. However, this must be underpinned by a strong skills pipeline. That is why we welcome the further investment for apprenticeships in key growth sectors, including nuclear technicians and electrical power network engineers, which will address shortages in the sustainability and digital skills pipeline – key to sustainable, long-term economic growth.

“However, whilst increasing the number of apprentices will be crucial to fixing the skills pipeline in the long-term, there remain significant gaps in the existing workforce. That is why we were disappointed to see that, once again, calls to reform the Apprenticeship Levy by making it more flexible for employers to upskill and reskill existing employees, particularly with micro-credentials in new and emerging technologies like AI and digital twins, has been ignored.

“In order to maximise the potential of R&D investment, it must be accompanied by plans to upskill workers in the adoption of new technologies. For example, digital twin technology can reduce down-time for manufacturing and optimise processes, but currently only 23% of employers surveyed in 2023 said that the UK has skills in this area.

“This is particularly the case for SMEs, who have the most to gain but the least time and resource to invest in training. We were therefore pleased to see the government’s upskilling fund pilot to help SMEs develop AI skills, and look forward to seeing further plans set out in the SME Digital Adoption Taskforce. Only by remaining agile will we plug skill gaps now and in the future.

“There is also clear recognition in this Budget about the role technology plays in improving productivity, especially in the NHS – where interoperability remains a significant hurdle. The application of engineering technologies to healthcare promises a revolution in the way we diagnose, monitor and treat disease, and will empower healthy lives.”

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Economy
Podcast
Engineering a Better World

The Engineering a Better World podcast series from The House magazine and the IET is back for series two! New host Jonn Elledge discusses with parliamentarians and industry experts how technology and engineering can provide policy solutions to our changing world.

NEW SERIES - Listen now