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Bringing Back Engineering Britain - Rebuilding Infrastructure To Revitalise UK Industry

Posted by: Sally Fallon 20 Aug 12 - 5:51PM  | Engineering
In the second part of a series about rebuilding the nation’s engineering heritage, Jonathan Lee Recruitment warns that underestimating the importance of the nation’s infrastructure could be fatal to the future of British Industry. Statistics for public sector net investment show that between 2009 and 2012 UK spending on transport and telecommunications systems fell by £20bn and private sector project finance transactions have fallen by over £14bn. While the government has promised a £100bn infrastructure investment over the next decade, some experts say up to four times as much will be needed in that timespan just to maintain our existing networks.

“A lack of funding has led to the deterioration of Britain’s ageing business lifelines, risking long-term damage to economic growth and development,” said Jonathan Lee’s Scott McIntee, Managing Consultant. “A sound infrastructure is particularly vital to industries that rely on physical products as opposed to services that can be ‘delivered’ by phone or email. Failure to make significant progress towards improving our country’s transport and communications networks could prove costly; blunting competitiveness as well as creating congestion, unreliable supply lines, and growing environmental problems. There are clear implications for economic growth, general living standards and quality of life.”

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, the world economy is expected to grow on average at close to 3% per year up to 2030 (from around $74 trillion to over $122 trillion). Within this prediction, developing countries’ performances are outstripping those of the developed countries by a wide margin (4% growth per year compared with 2.4%). As a result, globalisation and the emergence of new markets and new players are lengthening supply chains and exacerbating congestion around key ports, airports and transit corridors, further hampering business related import and export.

The UK has taken early steps towards addressing the issues by refocusing attention on infrastructure as a catalyst for economic growth. To make up for the funding shortfall the government is searching for new solutions, with the intent of using private finance to bridge the gap between the lack of affordability and the nation’s ongoing needs.

“The UK’s infrastructure will need significant, if not complete overhauls if the UK is to stay ahead of rapidly developing nations,” says Scott. “While the social and environmental impact of projects like HS2, Hinkley point C and shale gas fracking will need to be carefully assessed, they will have a long lasting effect on the economic growth and create a huge number of jobs, ranging from high level engineering through to basic labour. Private industry investment will play a vital role in development, not least because the networked economy is becoming increasingly important and we need to bring a Victorian built infrastructure into the 21st century.”
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