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Photonics impacts and workforce training needs chosen as emphases of All-Party Parliamentary Group

Group sets strategy in preparation for post-election decision-making in Parliament

18 July 2017

LONDON and CARDIFF, UK — The All-Party Parliamentary Group advocating with the UK government for photonics (APPGP) will emphasize the wide-ranging and innovation-driving role of light-based technologies — and the need for workforce training in the field — the group determined at its recent meeting in London. SPIE Europe is serving as Secretariat.

Following the British General Elections, the group reconstituted at its 4 July meeting, re-electing Carol Monaghan, MP Glasgow North West, as its chair.

Also re-elected were:

  • Vice chair: Steven Pound, MP Ealing North, Labour
  • Secretary: Chris Green, MP Bolton West, Conservative
  • Officer: Stephen Metcalfe, MP South Basildon and East Thurrock, Conservative.

John Lincoln and Anke Lohmann of UK Photonics and Karin Burger of SPIE Europe also attended.

The group established that in their dealings with the UK Government they will emphasize bridging the technical skills gap as well as highlighting the enabling role of photonics in ongoing parliamentary business, such as legislation on driverless cars.

The APPGP is working towards a sector deal in photonics which would allocate budget from the government to the field. While this would be one desirable outcome, the group is  also looking to ascertain whether a horizontal sector deal covering many industries would be welcome. Communications with the government will highlight the fact that photonics bridges and enables likely vertical submissions for funding, underscoring the technology's relevance.

Regarding the Technical Education Bill before Parliament, the group will advise that:

  • Technical education should be defined as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
  • The bill should address the lack of skills in the photonics, identify where potential skill gaps will appear, and acknowledge that qualified technicians are widely missing across the industry.

At its inaugural event last February, the APPGP connected MPs with representatives of Qioptiq, Leonardo Systems, Cobalt Light Systems, M Squared Lasers, the University of Southampton, the Knowledge Transfer Network, and other entities who provided information about products, services, and opportunities offered by photonics.

The UK Parliament established the group in October 2016 to facilitate regular discussions with members of the UK optics and photonics community. Meeting topics are based on the UK Government's Industrial Strategy, a consultation to address long-term challenges faced by the UK economy.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science, engineering, and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library. In 2016, SPIE provided $4 million in support of education and outreach programs. www.spie.org

 


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