COMMONS

Engineering skills: terms of reference

30 April 2012

Today the Science and Technology Committee publishes its report Engineering in Government, a short follow-up to the 2009 report Engineering: Turning ideas into reality. The Committee recognises the importance of engineering to society and as part of its continuing scrutiny of engineering, has agreed to conduct an inquiry on engineering skills.

Age 14 and above is an important period in education as students are asked to make decisions influencing the career path they will follow. In England, there have been three key developments:

  • the introduction of the English Baccalaureate as a performance measure in 2010 provided an incentive for schools to prioritise performance in "traditional" academic subjects at GCSE-level/ Key Stage 4 over more technical qualifications such as Design and Technology.
  • the introduction of 13 new University Technical Colleges for students aged 14-19 to study technical subjects such as engineering and construction.
  • from 2014, many vocational qualifications in practical subjects, including engineering, will be downgraded from their previous status as GCSE-equivalent qualifications, including the Engineering Diploma, which would in future be equivalent to one GCSE rather than four.

There have also been changes among the devolved administrations. In Scotland for example, the Standard Grade examination will be replaced in 2013.

The Committee seeks to gain an understanding of how changes in qualifications and education structures will impact on the acquisition of engineering skills across the whole of the UK.

Terms of Reference

 The Committee seeks written submissions on the following matters: 

  1. Does the current engineering skills base meet the needs of employers? Do employers in the engineering sector prefer an academic or a vocational profile?
  2. What impact will recent changes relating to engineering qualifications in England have on the uptake of technical subjects and the skills base needed by the engineering sector?
  3. How do the approaches taken by the Devolved Administrations to produce a technically skilled workforce differ to the current approach in England? What are the strengths/weakness of the different approaches?
  4. Could the Government and others do more to raise the status of technical subjects?
  5. What more should be done to attract and retain a more diverse technically skilled workforce?

Submitting written evidence

The Committee invites written submissions on these issues by midday on Monday 18 June 2012.

Each submission should:

  • be no more than 3,000 words in length; 
  • be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible; 
  • have numbered paragraphs; and
  • include a declaration of interests.

A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail and marked "Engineering skills". An additional paper copy should be sent in due course (not by the deadline) to:

The Clerk
Science and Technology Committee
House of Commons
7 Millbank
London SW1P 3JA

Please note that: 

  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a proposed memorandum, in which case a hard copy of the published work should be included.
  • Memoranda submitted must be kept confidential until published by the Committee, unless publication by the person or organisation submitting it is specifically authorised. 
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), by printing it or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence. 
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.

More information on submitting evidence to Select Committees

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