HC Deb 19 March 1985 vol 75 cc480-2W
Mr. Stern

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to increase the output of graduates in engineering and technology; and if he will make a statement.

Sir Keith Joseph

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has today announced that the Government are to mount a £43 million programme over the next three years for the provision within higher education institutions of additional places in engineering and technology.

The costs will be contained within existing expenditure programmes, with contributions from the Departments of Trade and Industry, Employment and Energy and from the Scottish and Welsh Offices, as well as from my Department's programme.

I am discussing with the University Grants Committee and others which institutions should benefit from this programme, and I hope to be able to announce soon those institutions that will admit additional students during 1985–86. Further announcements about later years will follow.

This programme marks a substantial response to requests from industry for an increased output of graduates in engineering and technology. Perceived industrial worth and cost effectiveness will therefore be important criteria in determining the allocation of the programme between institutions.

We shall be looking to industry to demonstrate the value it attaches to the programme by offering concrete support in various ways, along the lines proposed by the IT Skills Shortages Committee, and we shall be discussing further with employers' representatives how this can be assured.

This programme is a substantial addition to the initiative I announced in December 1982, for a programme to provide some 5,000 additional places in IT-related subjects, and to the programme costing £14 million over three years which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland announced in November 1984 to increase the output of engineers and technologists from the Scottish central institutions.

The combined effect of these programmes will be to provide a substantial further stimulus to the output of engineers and technologists and hence to the economy.