One of the ironies of Boris Johnson’s ambition to “Build Back Better” and “Level Up” is that the UK simply does not have enough engineers and technicians to do the building back better, even if we knew what it meant.

Quite apart from the acute labour shortages for lorry drivers and hospitality workers triggered by lockdown and Brexit, the country is bedevilled by a chronic and structural shortage of engineering graduates and other skilled technical workers, and particularly acute for apprentices.

As Rhys Morgan, director of education and engineering at the Royal Academy of Engineering, puts it: “While the government’s targets for a net zero economy and the broader ambitions for infrastructure are to be welcomed, these will not be met with the current supply or trajectory of UK engineering skills – at both technician and graduate levels.”