Some sensible ideas on industrial policy

Stuart with Louise Bours, UKIP NEC member & PCC candidate

On Saturday at UKIP’s North East Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting a relatively new recruit to the Party, Stuart Hutton, who joins us from the Tories (as so many seem to be doing).

Stuart is an engineer and works with a major auto manufacturer.  And he gave me a paper with his thoughts on industrial policy.  His ideas seemed to me to make a great deal of sense, and I’d like to share them with you, but as they ran to 1000 words or so, I take the liberty of condensing them to bullet points.

Engineering (he says) must be integrated into both education and industrial policy.  We need a GCSE in Engineering, and it must involve interesting and engaging real-life examples as projects.

Universities should consider cross-disciplinary final year projects or dissertations addressing practical ideas that could be commercially viable, so that training and team-work are directed to real-world opportunities.  These should where possible involve mentors from local industry.

We should think again about university fees that apply equally to all disciplines and subjects.  We should offer lower fees in economically-critical areas, to promote subjects with real-world economic relevance.  We need to encourage bright youngsters from less affluent backgrounds to engage with the skills the economy needs.

Stuart proposes local “Technology Resource Centres” which would bring together relevant industrial equipment and test facilities which should be available to local companies and universities.  This could assist in attracting investment and creating clusters of advanced industries.

Stuart also proposes that the term “Engineer” should be formally defined to signify a level of professional training and experience, in order to promote respect for engineering expertise; to attract bright people into the field; and to help ensure the availability of relevant skills.

He goes on to express concern about exactly the energy issues on which I have been writing and campaigning, urging shale gas exploration, plus more extensive exploitation of local hydro.  He urges tax relief for long-term investment in major projects.  And he calls for a British Quality Standard in Design & Manufacturing.

There are no easy answers, but it’s good to see this kind of positive and imaginative thinking from someone who is working in an engineering area, who is concerned about policy — and who has just come to UKIP.  Well done Stuart.

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9 Responses to Some sensible ideas on industrial policy

  1. Calpekeith says:

    Well said Stuart. Your ideas are something many have been saying for years. Unless we educate our youth to be wealth creaters and not just voyeurs, then we are doomed to slide down the slippery international scale

  2. Linda Hudson says:

    yes engineering, and science must go hand in hand with education, well I would say that wouldn’t I?; my father and his brothers were engineers before, during and after WW2, and my grandson has obtained his H.N.D. in engineering this year from Elgin technical college, but is still sending out his C.V. to companies for an apprenticeship, and training! Britain will only survive by investing in their people, especially the young, just like Germany invested in their own people to become the strongest economy in Europe!

  3. machokong says:

    I am afraid you’re veering off course, as with UKIPs commitment to Socialist enterprises such as the NHS, why offer tax breaks, why? Why offer lower fees, why? (where will the *real* money come from to subsidise the University places?)

    Engineering, like anything else can and should pay for itself, the jobs made available to make the upfront financial commitment attractive, no one pays anything until they can anyway. Why would the Arts for example charge students more?

    Universities fees are a good idea, high ones too as it stops the dross from getting in, once that has been in place for a while then people will learn to value degrees again, then they will be seen as a useful tool to get a job and people will invest in them, it’s a long term thing and, as always, tax breaks and subsidies are short term.

    • I disagree. The fact is that even with fees at £9000, the state is still subsidising university education. If you took a purist view, you should say that the state should not subsidise university education at all. But as long as the state IS subsidising university education, it is entitled to concentrate those subsidies on areas which the economy needs, and to reduce them in less critical areas.

      • Linda Hudson says:

        You make a good point Roger! After ww2, who paid for apprenticeships in shipyards? only the grass roots can answer that one, and the answer was the tradesman i.e. engineers, joiners etc,etc. there was a levy taken out of their wages to pay the apprentices, this worked untill the unions demanded fairly high wages for the trainee, and indeed for labourers, hence the shipbuilding went to the countries such as India, who were not noted for their ship building, indeed they were unlike the shipbuiding towns such as Sunderland, who had been building ships for more than 600 years. Today skilled foreign workers are imported, It doesn’t take much working out why this is, business do not have to pay for training, and whalla, we have over 1million youngsters without training and jobs. If we do not get a grip, and find a feesable way to train our own people, like the German government did for theirs, then we shall without a shred of a doubt, become a third rate country!

  4. Ammonite says:

    1. Total remuneration for directors to be limited to £1M or less p.a.
    2. Directors to repay 100% of their remuneration for each year their company reports a loss.
    3. Employees to receive precisely the same bonuses and any other ‘perks’ as company directors.
    4. A % (to be agreed) of all profits to be reinvested in R&D and/or employment of additional employees.
    5. Favour of UK companies to complete UK contracts wherever the relevant resources are available in the UK.
    6. All profits from UK companies to be retained in the UK OR taxed at 90% (say) AND that 90% invested into an ‘Engineering Bank’ (managed by engineers) for financing of innovative projects/enterprises that otherwise would be carried out offshore. The same to apply to all companies in all other industry sectors.
    7. Tenderer selection for UK engineering contracts to be completed exclusively by practising and qualified engineers who have no vested interests in the relevant contracts or contractors or suppliers. Same to apply to other industry sectors and practising, qualified professionals.
    8. Once a government contract is specified and agreed for a bridge or computer system (say) no further government involvement is to be permitted other than as the client. In particular the government is not to be allowed to appoint non-professional project managers or sponsors none of whom are to be associated with the government or other involved parties in any way.
    9. No contracts to be tendered until the full specification is completed and agreed.
    10. NO PFI or similar schemes for any public contracts to be fixed term (time) and fixed price at verifiable industry rates for all materials, plant and labour.
    11. All projects that do not have a direct impact on national security to have full and complete specifications, costs and records of all critical meetings and decisions freely published on the internet.

  5. Linda Hudson says:

    Excellent thinking Ammonite, We shall get there eventually!

  6. MichaelF says:

    It is far past time when we the UK public should have free access to audited accounts that detail the nett profit or loss that the UK has made from its contributions to the EU. Given the many failures of the European Parliament to obtain and issue audited accounts for all its activities that is probably a forlorn hope. However it does indicate the incompetence of that body whose unspoken motto should be ‘do as I say, not as I do’.

    Sir Michael Darrington’s ‘Pro-Business Against Greed’ campaign efforts and the failure of most MPs to sign up for its support we can but conclude that the majority of MPs have more interest in supporting the status quo and themselves than in furthering the interests of the UK. That rot in our political system extends all the way through to the European Parliament which is the epicentre of greed and self-interest for an unqualified, so-called elite that wallows in its undeserved privileges. UK industries, except those with ‘behind-the-scenes’ connections (undeclared conflicts of interests) and the resources to lobby the corrupt MEPs, lose out. Consequently the UK loses in the face of tsunami waves of convoluted bureaucracy. The EU is anti-competitive, unrealistic in that it believes all European cultures can be homogenised. It promotes the idea of dependency, i.e. that failing countries, despite their failures, can continually benefit from the wealth created by other countries. Loans to those countries simply place poorer nations in debt to and under the control of a power crazed group of bureaucrats whose incompetence is clear for all to see.

    Free trade, without intervention by any unelected government, is the factor that encourages growth. We need far less regulation, taxes,government and tighter immigration controls for our wealth-creating UK businesses to create jobs and to succeed. As matters now stand it is difficult to imagine how our UK Government and the European Parliament could do a worse job of assisting our industries’ wealth creation efforts.

  7. Ammonite says:

    Well done MichaelF, more of this and less Eurospeak. A good blast of truths.

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