The millennium bug has just struck an unlikely target, and earlier than expected: the ambitious TV advertising campaign to promote engineering careers has bitten the dust – the result of the plethora of millennium shenanigans placing too many competing claims on the budgets of the biggest potential corporate sponsors. The result was that none were able to kick- start the campaign with the required funding.
Of course there are other factors at play: the economy, and the corporate upheavals being experienced by companies such as GEC, British Aerospace and Invensys, the kind of major players the campaign organisers hoped would set an example to the rest of manufacturing’s giants and create a domino effect of fundraising for the £25m campaign.
But the organisers say that pressure to back local and national millennium projects, including the expensive theme park within the Millennium Dome, has meant the campaign has been put on ice. The £1m donations sought from the biggest players did not materialise. The Engineering Marketing Group, which has organised the campaign, says the concept is not dead. But the failure of the campaign this time may suggest that it won’t work in the future, even when millennium hangovers have long worn off.
The biggest UK engineering groups are popular with graduates, and often already have extensive campaigns in their local area to attract apprentices too. Asking such companies to put £1m to the common good is a tall order, as the attraction is far greater to channel such cash into their own recruitment campaigns or even school liaison projects.
The companies with most to gain from such a TV campaign are the smaller ones. But getting modest financial backing from so many small manufacturers would be costly in the extreme.
None of this solves Britain’s skills shortages, which cannot be ignored. Maybe now is the time for the Government to step in where the market has failed to deliver.
Copyright: Centaur Communications Limited