Engineering diploma downgrade could wreck confidence in Hull's renewables industry, says MP
GOVERNMENT plans to downgrade the value of its engineering diploma could damage confidence in the city's blossoming renewables industry, a Hull MP has warned.
Michael Gove has confirmed the diploma will only be worth one GCSE in future, not five, as it is currently valued.
The change comes despite concerns from some of Britain's biggest engineering firms that downgrading the qualification would increase UK skills shortages.
Hull East MP Karl Turner said the move could dissuade young people from studying the subject and has warned the move could go down badly with manufacturers such as Siemens, which is poised to invest in a wind turbine factory in his constituency.
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Speaking on the floor of the House of Commons during education questions, Mr Turner said: "Does the Minister agree that a diploma in engineering is an important qualification and an important skill for young people?
"Downgrading that important qualification is, in my view, damaging to foreign manufacturers, such as Siemens, which is hopefully about to invest very heavily in offshore wind in my fantastic constituency."
In response, Education Minister John Hayes said he planned to visit Hull on April 19 when he will be available to discuss the issue further.
However a letter to the Daily Telegraph, headed by Mike Short, president of the Institution Of Engineering And Technology, said business leaders have expressed concern about the proposed change to the engineering diploma.
They claimed the Government had not listened to repeated attempts by the engineering world to protect the new diploma, seen as "robust and attractive" in the industry to addressing skills gaps in the UK.
But the Department For Education said it was a sign of the quality of the engineering diploma that it would even be included in performance tables in future, rather than be axed from the system altogether.
A spokesman said: "The qualifications that will continue to be included in performance tables are of the very highest quality.
"Some larger qualifications do take longer to teach than a GCSE but we believe all qualifications should count as one."