2023: reflecting on an eventful advocacy year

Dec 14, 2023

The houses of parliament

By Monica Thompson, Policy Manager at EngineeringUK

Joining the policy and public affairs team at EngineeringUK earlier this year has been a remarkable journey for me. Advocacy work forms one of the 4 key strands of the organisation’s new strategy, so I’ve been able to gain unique insights and opportunities to engage in meaningful policy work. These months have been filled with learning, growth, and impactful contributions to the field of STEM education, engineering and public policy - shaping not just my professional path but also my personal perspective on the importance of our work.

As we approach the end of 2023, it’s a fitting time for our team to reflect on our advocacy work to ensure young people from all backgrounds get the opportunities they need to go into engineering and tech careers. Here are some of our highlights and achievements from past year.

Launching the Fit for the Future Apprenticeships Inquiry

Supporting this inquiry has been a significant project for EngineeringUK over the last year, particularly for the policy and public affairs team as well as our research and communications teams. Our commitment to it has enabled us to forge strong working relationships with the 2 influential members of the House of Lords who led the inquiry - former Labour and Conservative ministers Lord Knight and Lord Willetts. We engaged with more than 90 organisations as part of our call for evidence, as well as the PEI community via the National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC), and this collective effort culminated in the publication of a comprehensive 5-point plan. These recommendations, if addressed, are poised to have a positive impact on the accessibility of engineering and technology apprenticeships for young people from all backgrounds.

Hosting parliamentary events

The launch event for the apprenticeships inquiry report was a resounding success, bringing together all those involved in apprenticeships including parliamentarians, businesses and education providers. Our second event, the Big Bang at Parliament, was an incredibly inspiring afternoon where Big Bang Competition competitors showcased their innovative STEM ideas to an audience of MPs, peers and industry leaders, and the UK Young Engineer of the Year was among those who gave a speech.

These gatherings showcased EngineeringUK’s dedication to promoting STEM education and careers as well as our ability to rally support from key stakeholders at the heart of government. As we turn the calendar to a new year, we look forward to building on these accomplishments.

Raising the profile of The Big Bang Fair

The Big Bang Fair's triumph is a collaborative effort from teams across EngineeringUK and our many  partners and supporters, however we take much pride in our team’s contributions. This year, we secured the attendance of the Chief Scientific Adviser, Dame Angela McLean. Her presence and participation in one of our event careers panels, made her an ardent advocate for our work both in parliament and beyond.

We also welcomed visitors from the Department of Transport and the Department for Business and Trade, along with some of our political allies, including Stephen Metcalfe MP. These connections are vital as we strive to advance the STEM education and careers agenda.

Joining consultations and government working groups

Consultation responses are the lifeblood of any policy and public affairs team, and we've been actively contributing. In 2023, we gave our insights into 6 consultations. In the case of the Lords Committee for 11 to 16 year olds, EngineeringUK provided both written and oral evidence - leading to our insights and recommendations being quoted and drawn on throughout the report.

We've also been privileged to participate in various governmental working groups. Our involvement in groups such as the Nuclear Skills Taskforce and the Transport Employment and Skills Taskforce (TEST) has allowed us to help shape the government's thinking on skills-related issues. We’ve also been involved in 2 All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) – on T Levels and Apprenticeships – as part of our commitment to support vocational routes into engineering and tech.

Ministerial meetings to drive forward our policy agenda

Finally, we've been honoured to hold meetings with influential figures in the government such as the Skills Minister, Shadow Skills Minister and the Higher Education Minister. These critical meetings allow our voice to be heard at the highest echelons of political power. They serve a key role for us to advocate passionately for young people from all backgrounds to get the STEM education and opportunities they need to go into engineering and tech careers.

We're really looking forward to continuing this great advocacy work in 2024 as we strive to drive change so that more young people choose engineering and technology careers.

Find out more about EngineeringUK’s advocacy work and 5-year strategy


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