Muscle up, George

Many of us have been waiting for George Simpson to use the muscle he acquired when he became chief executive of GEC. If the company acquires Rolls-Royce as is rumoured this will be the class act we have been anticipating. Both GEC and Rolls-Royce are full capability engineering manufacturers. Both design, sell, make and service […]

Many of us have been waiting for George Simpson to use the muscle he acquired when he became chief executive of GEC. If the company acquires Rolls-Royce as is rumoured this will be the class act we have been anticipating.

Both GEC and Rolls-Royce are full capability engineering manufacturers. Both design, sell, make and service complex engineering systems and products that are used throughout the world. If they do merge we know the top-level innovative work will stay here and not get done offshore, as so often happens in cross-border joint ventures and inward investments.

Full marks to the Engineering Council for planning an advertising campaign (£3m per year) to encourage young people to become engineers.

Here are the three criteria I would use to select the winning agency.

1) Do they know what drives young people when choosing a career?

2) Do they have the personality to resist the pressures to be boring from the bureaucracy of engineers who will pay them?

3) Do they understand how the modern multi-skilled engineering team- member helps his business grow and succeed?

The best youngsters I meet, considering an engineering career, come in two categories. They either want to be mind-stretching innovators of new products or an industrial boss.

There are plenty of them about. There is no lack of candidates for business study programmes, no lack of interest in design courses. Our trouble is that we too often project ourselves as ‘spanner-brained’. So, best of luck to the winning agency.

Did you know Germany cut four to five times the number of gears we cut in Britain? A gear hob maker told me, and he should know. But why is this specialist information of general importance?

If the Germans cut five times the number of gears, they make five times the number of gear boxes, five times the number of machines and/or cars or whatever.

If wages are so high in Germany and we have re-learned how to operate factories competitively, why do we not use at least as many hobs as they do?

Please write and tell me. But don’t give me arguments based on ‘post-industrial service society’ pseudo-logic or macro-economic theory or ‘status of engineers’. Tell me the real reasons. I would tell you if I could.

Brian Small is a non-executive director of several firms and a management consultant.