Government’s investment push gets warm reception from the sector

George Osborne’s vision for a new wave of infrastructure investment to boost jobs and growth in the UK has been well received by the engineering sector, which welcomed his bid to secure funding for new schemes.

The chancellor said the National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) issued today would name 500 projects that the government wished to see being built, and said 34 were being given the go-ahead today.

Uwe Krueger, chief executive of engineering-led firm Atkins, said: “Now is the time for those engineering the economy and those engineering its infrastructure to be the closest partners.

“Atkins applauds chancellor George Osborne for setting the framework that will entice investment into new schemes. The engineering community must now provide clarity on costs, delivery and payback to promote the case with the financial sector.

“The UK has world class engineering and design skills and after a long recession is hungry to deliver new rail-lines, power facilities and airport capacity in a cost-efficient and highly effective way. Recent successes such as the London 2012 Games prove that costs can be contained while value is maximised and I believe that infrastructure programmes are now a solid bet for long term investment.”

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering said infrastructure would be sure to repay government investment.

ACE chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin said: “Infrastructure is the key driver for economic growth and can provide a significant return for the investment required. Crossrail alone offers the prospect of up to a £67bn return for the UK economy.

“The country is facing a £434bn infrastructure shortfall by 2020 and is now ranked 28th in the world, while our nearest competitor France is ranked third.

“We are very pleased to see the announcements through National Infrastructure Plan 2 further strengthen infrastructure activity. Some certainty for the future was generated through £5bn made available in the next spending period and a list of 500 projects for the next 10 years and beyond.”

Mark Tully, head of Roevin Engineering Recruitment, said the chancellor’s infrastructure plan was a much-needed advance, but urged the government to invest in engineering careers to ensure Britain has the skills to take major projects forward.

He said: “Despite high unemployment, the UK is facing a shortage of qualified engineers who can lead major infrastructure projects. The proposed support for apprenticeships is important - but it is only a first step in a long-term battle.

“The government must do more now to promote engineering careers. Providing apprenticeships and training for NEETS is important, but it is not the only way to develop a skilled workforce.”