Budget ‘a win’ for the UK engineering and technical job market, says Fircroft COO

The Budget is good news for the UK’s engineering and technical market, according to a sector specialist.

The chief operating officer at one of the UK’s largest engineering and technical recruiters has told Recruiter that while “there are a few minor points of contention” yesterday’s Budget, it “should be considered ‘a win’ for the UK engineering and technical job market”.

Stuart Hall, Fircroft’s COO and chief financial officer, was responding to a raft of announcements made by Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Budget yesterday to invest in the UK’s infrastructure and its technical and engineering skills base. 

Hall said should the government commit to yesterday’s announcements, “then we will see significant amounts committed to regional infrastructure projects, 5G mobile networks, full fibre broadband, the development of electric cars and £2.3bn allocated for investment in research & development, which will be a major step forward in making the UK even more competitive in the changing global landscape.

“At a time when there is a shortage of new engineering talent entering the job market, the decision to award schools additional funding for every pupil that takes maths or further maths is to be applauded and should go someone way to creating the next generation of engineers.”

David Leyshon, chairman and CEO at technical recruiter CBSbutler, told Recruiter: “As technical specialists, we continue to be encouraged by the government’s commitment to the tech sector and in particular in growing the skills base.

“I am confident that post-Brexit the UK will indeed become a technological super hub and the investment at all levels is a huge fillip.”

John-Paul Toner, operations director at Contract Scotland, told Recruiter he was pleased with the government’s commitment to house building and infrastructure. In the light of the uncertainty over the future of 175,000 EU nationals working in the construction sector, and the existing skills shortage, he particularly welcomed the additional £34m allocated to developing construction skills. “Whether those skills can be delivered in time remains to be seen,” he added.

“We also welcome the additional £2bn that will accrue to the Scottish government as a result of measures announced in this Budget and would call on the Scottish government to make similar commitments to housebuilding, infrastructure and construction skills in Scotland.”

Morson’s sales director David Lynchehaun, told Recruiter: “We’re pleased to hear that the National Productivity Investment Fund will be extended for another year and expanded to be worth more than £31bn. This fund will undoubtedly help to drive national infrastructure projects, and ultimately help to strengthen the UK’s industrial strategy.”

Paul Payne, managing director of rail and construction recruitment specialist One Way, welcomed the government’s commitment to build up to 1m homes in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor. And he said he was “particularly encouraging to hear that the government will work with the CBI and TUC on a National Retraining Scheme to boost digital skills and support the extension of the construction sector”.

Doug Monro, co-founder of jobs search engine Adzuna, said: “One of the most heartening aspects of Hammond’s Budget speech was his commitment to jobs of the future. Britain is at the forefront of tech development and the intention to maintain and enhance this position is welcome.” 

Jon Andrews, head of technology and investments at PwC, said: “It’s encouraging to see the government investing in emerging technology like artificial intelligence (AI). This is a good start, but when compared to the potential AI prize, which PwC research shows could add £232bn to the UK economy by 2030, this investment will need to be scaled over time to establish the UK in a leading position.”

Measures announced by the Chancellor yesterday included:

  • At least £44bn of capital funding, loans and guarantees to support the housing market to boost the supply of skills, resources, and building land and to create the financial incentives necessary to deliver 300,000 net additional homes a year on average by the mid-2020s
  • Money for five new garden cities
  • Increasing the size of the National Productivity Investment Fund to over £31m
  • £1.7bn for a Transforming Cities Fund
  • £300m to enhance HS2 infrastructure in the North and Midlands
  • £337m investment in the Tyne and Wear Metro rail system.
  • A tripling in the number of computer science teachers, and more support to boost the teaching of maths

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