Industry reacts to the week’s political moves

Figures from the world of UK industry give their take on the government’s cabinet reshuffle and the nomination of Lord Hill as the new EU Commissioner.

Terry Scuoler CEO EEF
Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF

Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, on Lord Hill’s nomination as British EU Commissioner. 

“Lord Hill’s nomination is a positive and diplomatic move. It is essential that he secures a key economic portfolio on behalf of the UK so that he can bring some rigour to economic reform and industrial revival in Brussels, with a focus on further trade deals and supportive and flexible social policies.

“He will also hopefully tone down the unhelpful noise that has been generated around Britain’s potential exit. The job in Brussels is all about driving growth and improving economic security across the EU – with a view to keeping Britain in membership.”

Richard Green, CEO of the Design & Technology Association, shares his thoughts on how the reshuffle could affect the education system.

Richard Green Design and Technology Association
Richard Green, CEO of the Design & Technology Association

“The Cabinet reshuffle comes at a critical time for schools across the country. We know that many are nervous about the launch of the new national curriculum in September. More broadly, there are significant hurdles to overcome to ensure students leave school with the problem solving and practical skills that are in-demand from employers across a broad range of industries.

“Design & Technology has the worst shortfall in recruitment into initial teacher training for any subject. For the school year 2013/2014, just 48% of the allocated training places were filled. This does not bode well for schools being able to fill teaching vacancies in 2014 when the new National Curriculum programmes of study are required to be taught.

“The Government says it wants to build an economy founded on making and doing, yet their focus on traditional, academic subjects has meant Design and Technology is experiencing the greatest falls, with11% fewer teachers and hours of teaching, since 2010.

“It should be concerning to all of us that D&T remains a subject on the ‘endangered’ list, and at times is both chronically undervalued, and widely misunderstood. If Government is serious about building an army of multi-skilled, creative talent, then now is the time for joined up thinking and support and promotion of D&T.”

Dr Sarah Main, the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) on Greg Clark’s appointment as universities and sciences minister.

Sarah Main
Dr Sarah Main, CaSE

“I’m looking forward to working with Greg Clark as the new minister for universities and science.  He has a lot to offer the sector as an economist with a broad ministerial career spanning Treasury, Communities and Local Government, and Energy.

“Obviously he will have his work cut out for him combining his cabinet office cities brief with universities and science and we will support him and his team in doing so.

“We at CaSE want to see science and engineering at the heart of Government plans for growth and national prosperity.  Greg Clark’s joint brief in cabinet office and BIS, with the right to attend cabinet, may help achieve that.

“He will be able to capitalise on David Willetts’ great work generating high level political support for science by securing Government support for long-term sustained investment in our globally exceptional science base.”

Keith Lewis of automotive trade association the Society of Motorists and Manufacturers discusses Michael Fallon leaving his post as business minister for the defence secretary role.

Keith Lewis SMMT
Keith Lewis, SMMT

“The key thing for us as with any sector is stability. Having Vince Cable still in post for the fifth year is welcome. He knows the industry, is a great advocate for us and we work very closely together through the Automotive Council.

“But we did have a very good relationship with Michael Fallon so we wish him well in his promotion to defence secretary. He understood the industry and was very keen to support it – he attended our Meet the Buyer event a few weeks ago and attended a number of events while in post. But the nature of politics is that we deal with whichever minister happens to be in office at that point.

“The good thing about this move is that Matt Hancock has replaced him. We have a good relationship with him and he knows the automotive skills agenda. He attended our Apprenticeship event in February for Apprenticeship Week.

“He’s been involved in the Trailblazer activity that we’re doing on apprenticeships and he launched the supply chain skills fund a few months ago. So it’s good that we don’t have to go back to basics and get him up to speed; he knows the sector and hopefully we can continue the momentum we had over the last year or so.”