Crunch time

As an engineer, you must have been tempted to shout at the TV whenever a pundit appeared to explain that shuffling vast amounts of cash around was a flimsy foundation for national prosperity.

Come on, admit it. As a member of the UK’s productive economy – someone in the designing and making things business – you must have at least once been tempted to shout at the TV screen whenever a pundit appeared to explain for the umpteenth time that shuffling vast amounts of cash around the place was, in retrospect, a pretty flimsy foundation for national prosperity.

Something along the lines of ‘we told you so, you idiots’ perhaps, or maybe something less suitable for a family newsletter.

It could be worse. We could be Iceland, where even now a whole generation of newly-redundant financial whizz-kids is hauling granddad’s fishing net out of the loft and brushing up on the difference between a plaice and a turbot.

In the UK we still have a world-class aerospace and defence sector, a skilled oil and gas workforce that is in international demand and a manufacturing base that has quietly got on with surviving its own version of the credit crunch for the last decade with little or no support or thanks from anyone else.

We produce cars of every shape and size and have some of the world’s most renowned technology-focused university departments.

Some of this is because of the policies of successive governments, some of it is despite those policies. What needs to change now, in the new post-credit bubble world, is any notion that the UK’s engineering, technology and manufacturing base is somehow a poor relation or an afterthought – because that is often how it seemed.

Even when they were saying and doing the right things, there was a sense that the powers-that-be saw the productive sector as something of an economic sideshow, important certainly but not at the top table where billions could be conjured from nowhere by a few thousand suits in the Square Mile of the City.

The emergency measures of the last week will hopefully allow the financial industry to get back to what should be its core purpose of funding the growth of companies in the productive sectors of the economy.

What it won’t do is allow financial services to be the economic engine of growth it has been for the last decade and more. That growth will have to come from somewhere else – which is where you come in.

So let’s be clear that engineering matters, technology matters and manufacturing matters, and the opinions of those who work in them count. In that spirit we urge you to look at the results of the first Engineer/YouGov quarterly survey, which gives a valuable insight into the opinions of more than 1,300 engineers on issues including graduate skills, government support and the esteem in which the profession is held.

Those opinions matter, and so do yours. Click here to see the headline findings of the survey.

Andrew Lee, editor