The following is a recent comment from the Chairman of a successful SME.
“I was speaking at a recent manufacturing dinner and one of the other speakers represented the EEF. He was talking about their efforts to inspire and attract youngsters into engineering and manufacturing, much of this is of necessity being done by the private sector because government is simply not doing it. Whether this is because they do not understand the need, or whether it is obstruction from the teaching unions I don’t know. Lord Green was aware of the work being done and spoke with me about some of the great efforts made by the EEF and IOD in encouraging youngsters to become interested in these jobs.
The speaker for EEF told us he had accompanied a school visit to a top class factory and been shown some really exciting projects underlining manufacturing as a challenging, interesting and satisfying career. Everyone involved believed they had done a great job and had seen a really good response from the young audience. However, as they were filing out he overheard their teacher say: “now you have all seen what you will end up having to do if you don’t get on with your school work and pass your exams!”
In thinking this way the teaching profession is possibly one of the biggest stumbling blocks for youngsters getting into engineering and manufacturing. They don’t know anything about it and simply see it as a boring dead end job.
Perhaps they should visit Rolls Royce Aerospace or any other great British manufacturing company to learn how wrong they are in their belief.”
Following the March 2011 Review of Vocational Training report by Professor Alison Wolf, the Engineering Diploma for 14 to 19 year-olds has been earmarked for downgrade from its current value of five GCSEs to just one !
Many manufacturers see this as a completely incomprehensible move, driven as it is by schools dropping design and technology because they don’t count towards how the school is graded.
Thus the Diploma has been tarred with the same brush as other, perhaps less functional, vocational training courses which arguably will make the diploma far less appealing and further compound the chronic lack of qualified technicians.
Whatever is wrong with our Educationists and Ministers. Do they not understand the importance of well rounded knowledge and literacy when entering the complex world of Engineering?
We all know that not every Teacher thinks in a negative way about industrial and practical skills. There are many brilliant teachers doing their very best to produce a balanced education and positive view for their pupils to take with them into their future working life.
Nevertheless, Academia has always produced it’s fair share of out-of-touch theorists having little useful grasp of the real world and with the belief that knowing is more important than doing.
A large number still seem to view ‘Industry’ as rows of unfortunate workers doing boring menial jobs in poor conditions with no meaningful future.
These out of touch Academics, often in influential positions, need to be re-educated quickly before they further poison and debilitate our education system.
What exactly are our Government advisors, especially those ‘borrowed’ from industry, currently doing about this dangerous situation?
Ever heard of Raspberry Pi?
Neither had we until very recently.
It is a Charity formed by Cambridge computer designers who have developed a simple programmable machine for school and home use to encourage youngsters and more senior students to write their own programmes like many of us did in the 70’s and 80’s. Market research indicated serious interest and a potentially large market for the product, so they tried to manufacture it in the UK.
They soon discovered that HMRC is not particularly supportive of British manufacture, indeed they positively encourage many companies to manufacture off-shore! Read on to see yet another example of joined-up thinking by our policy makers……
The following paragraph is from the Raspberry Pi website:-
“I’d like to draw attention to one cost in particular that really created problems for us in Britain. Simply put, if we build the Raspberry Pi in Britain, we have to pay a lot more tax. If a British company imports components, it has to pay tax on those (and most components are not made in the UK). If, however, a completed device is made abroad and imported into the UK – with all of those components soldered onto it – it does not attract any import duty at all.
This means that it’s really, really tax inefficient for an electronics company to do its manufacturing in Britain, and it’s one of the reasons that so much of our manufacturing goes overseas. Right now, the way things stand means that a company doing its manufacturing abroad, depriving the UK economy, gets a tax break. It’s an absolutely mad way for the Inland Revenue to be running things, and it’s an issue we’ve taken up with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.”