How Science and Technology Fosters Employment
The Science and Technology Committee monitors the implementation of science and technology programs in the public and private sectors worldwide. The functions of this committee are to ensure that science and technology advances are maintained at a steady rate and are not compromised due to economic, social or political influences. It also ensures that the interests of people living in different countries are protected. The areas covered by the Science and Technology Committee are:
External affairs: The External Affairs Committee deals with issues arising out of international public and private sector science and technology policy. The Committee has the responsibility for promoting and advancing science and technology in the UK and around the world. External members of the committee are the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Universities and Colleges, chief executives of British Banks, chairmen of the National Trust, and members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee. Expected to sit on the committee are the heads of engineering firms, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and science and technology committees.
Strategy and research Programme: The strategy and research programme of science and technology departments in the UK aims to lay the groundwork for the future of science and technology in the UK and around the world. It also promotes the training of new high-fledged scientists, engineers and technologists. As part of its strategy, the committee carefully plans the budget for the science and technology department. On an annual basis, the chairman of the committee is required to give a speech outlining the goals and objectives of the department and discussing how the department plans to meet them.
Research agendas: For the past few years, science and technology committee have been debating a new Scientific Research Act which will facilitate better and faster progress of scientific research in the UK. The draft act proposes various modifications to existing legislations. Proposed amendments include setting up a Joint Committee on Science and Technology, inviting eminent personalities in science and technology, establishing and encouraging interdisciplinary research units, providing independent advisory board positions, setting up a statutory body responsible for promoting and protecting science and technology and giving a wider remit to government agencies and tribunals to review and approve science and technology expenditure. The overall cost of introducing these amendments will be far less than the expenses incurred in the past few years dealing with the problems of waste disposal and damage control arising out of the HETE Act.
Hansard Committee: The Hansard Committee has been instrumental in encouraging greater participation by SMEs in science and technology projects. The committee has been especially concerned about small businesses, particularly women-owned and staffed enterprises, in developing communities and rural areas. Its final report, issued in 2021, acknowledged that the SME had a unique role to play in shaping UK society and its economy. The committee proposed a number of measures to improve the access and success rate of SMEs in science and technology projects, especially those located in disadvantaged areas.
Science and Technology Minister David Morris MP outlined a series of steps the Government would take to improve the availability of SMEs in science and technology projects. In a statement to the House of Commons, he said that all UK organisations within Whitehall – central government departments and bodies like the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation – were committed to promoting greater participation by SMEs. The plans included the introduction of a science and technology strategy, the registration of trademarks, and a strategy for training and development. The minister also announced plans to give hundreds of millions of pounds in funding to small companies and SMEs. Science and engineering have been a key driver of UK growth over the past decade, but some experts have expressed concerns that the sector is becoming over saturated with large multinational companies. Mr. Morris believes that the moves are necessary in response to the growing importance of science and technology in the UK economy.
Buckingham University academics Dr David Stassen and Professor Julianne Fairbridge, from Buckingham University’s School of Engineering, claim that their research has shown that there is currently no evidence of a significant proportion of SMEs contributing financially to science and technology. They concluded that whilst there may be some cases where they might benefit from SME investment, this should be an offset against the cost of commercialising new knowledge and products. They said that such investments were currently not making any difference to the university sector in terms of productivity, income or research output. They said that there was also a lack of evidence to show that SMEs were creating employment or driving up the value of goods and services. Their research into the effect of investment in science and technology on the economy suggested that there was no clear link between the level of investment and output.
Science and Technology Minister Dr David Willetts MP, said that the activities of small industries were vital to the economic health of Britain. He said that he was “delighted” that the government has taken action to help stimulate the economy through science and technology. His own government plans to increase the role of the science and technology committee have been rejected by the Liberal Democrats. He added that he was “absolutely delighted” at the appointment of his own former science and technology cabinet member, the north-west MP, Mr Nick Clegg. He said that it showed the Government’s real commitment to the north-west area of the country.