Government’s £2bn Science & Research pledge key to East Anglia skills boost


The Government’s commitment to spend £2bn a year on scientific research and development has been hailed by leading contractor, Wates Construction, as integral to tackling the East of England’s industry skills gap.

Responding to the Government’s announcement that it plans to boost funding for science and technology, Wates is now urging Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to use this week’s Autumn Statement to help businesses unlock further skills investment.

Ian Vickers, Managing Director of Wates Construction Home Counties, comments: “The scale of research and development investment planned by the Government is welcome news, particularly for the East of England, which has led the way in this vital sector for decades. What we now need to see is how the Government intends to support the growth of the key industries that will facilitate this investment, a huge part of which is the Government’s strategy for skills training.

“In January this year the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)* predicted that construction output in the East of England will grow at an average rate of 2.3% annually, which will result in the creation of approximately 3,900 new jobs in the sector each year for the next five years. With further public sector spending will come an even more promising outlook for growth but this will be put at risk if significant investment is not made in training the future workforce.”

Wates Construction is currently building the Quadram Institute, a new food and health research centre at Norwich Research Park, which will bring together the Institute of Food Research (IFR), the University of East Anglia and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Ian continued: “Wates has been a leading contractor in the region’s research and development sector for many years and it is with great pride that we have been entrusted with the creation of some exceptional developments where groundbreaking research has been undertaken.

“The Government’s commitment to invest £2bn a year in scientific research will undoubtedly see the continuation of the region as a leader in the advancement of science and technological innovation. If harnessed in the right way, the ripple effects will be considerable; more training and employment opportunities will become available and East Anglia will become increasingly attractive for people to come to live and work in this great region.

“Of course, underpinning this investment will be the strength of the construction sector. The Government’s long-term strategy must prioritise education so as to ensure that sufficient training and apprenticeship opportunities are created to prop up the industry. The Government’s apprenticeship levy will undoubtedly be a significant step-change in the availability of apprenticeships for those looking to work in the industry but this is just a small part of the picture and a clear strategy for education investment will be vital to ensuring we have a strong and sustainable future.”