UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister), George Osborne, says his administration's focus on apprenticeships will equip future engineers to compete against emerging countries.

Speaking at the Royal Academy of Engineering Awards dinner at London's Battersea Power Station last week, the Chancellor underlined the growth of apprenticeships in the UK as a significant competitive driver.

Osborne's comments came against the recent announcement by his colleague, UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable, of GBP1bn (US$1.5bn) in extra funding to create an 'advanced propulsion centre,' thousands of new motor industry apprenticeships and the start of an 'automotive investment organisation.'

The scheme will see component workers aided by the creation of a framework for suppliers, vehicle manufacturers and banking organisations, to help solve the problem of financing tooling investment.

"We are a nation of engineers," Osborne said. "We invented the steam engine, iron bridge and the jet engine. There are companies up and down this country disproving the idea engineering is over.

"The fact is in recent decades, the UK has not done enough to encourage new engineers. We are increasing manufacturing and engineering apprenticeships by 30%.

"We are overhauling the curriculum in our colleges and in our higher education establishments so our students have a chance of competing on a level with their competitors in Shanghai."