There is considerable hope around the British automotive industry that it is entering a new and exciting age but is this a long term reality? Prova’s managing director Richard Postins takes a look at the challenges facing the UK automotive industry if it is to become a world leader once more.
“The jury is still out on what will be the energy solution of choice for vehicles for the next century; no-one knows when fossil fuels will run out, or whether electric, or hydrogen, or a hybrid of approaches will be the key that unlocks a more sustainable future. What we do know is that we need the talented engineers of tomorrow to help find that key, or bunch of keys.
“Presently, the careers of choice lie elsewhere, in finance, in the City and the more enthusiastically-salaried professions. Short-termism is one of the drivers here. Society still teaches our graduates that when looking for a career, search for what pays the best. Everything else is secondary. Unfortunately, since the onus was very much put on the materialistic advance of the self during the eighties and carried on under political leaders of various hues since then, a wider view of one’s role in society has been blinded by the bright lights of the City.
“We need to be passionate and rightly proud of our engineering sector and its successes. Just look at our motorsport sector, our burgeoning cleantech cluster – and some of the astounding work going on across our university spin-out communities. In the UK, we have for too long hidden the light of engineering under a bushel. We need to change that and put advanced engineering on a pedestal, as it is in Germany or Italy.
“The next 25 years are utterly crucial for the engineering world to solve the solutions that the world needs. Those solutions will not come from accountancy, the legal profession, or the retail sector; they will be driven by inspired, innovative research and development programmes. And we need to make sure engineering is attracting the best graduates to make sure this happens. The prize is Britain leading the world again in terms of solutions that the entire world needs.
“We have many of the cleantech solutions needed in the UK and we need to champion them and support their needs, especially from a recruitment perspective. That will require long term thinking, rather than the short termism engendered by years of rampant materialism and the X-factor attitude of some of the more aggressive venture capital community.
“We need the engineers of tomorrow to be seen as the leaders, the icons of the nation. And if our grandchildren are to look back on our generation with anything beyond mere neutrality at best and at worst anger, we must make sure that we are harnessing the greatest talent that we have by making sure that UK plc is championing engineering – for the good of all of us.”