A glance through back issues of The Engineer illustrate the long slow road towards a single voice for engineering.
Throughout the early 1990s, the many and varied organisations attempting to represent engineers fought among themselves about the best way forward.
Now the Engineering Council – reformed just over a year ago to be the single voice – has taken an important step forward with its task.
News that it has finally signed a deal with the Government over its role is welcome. The memorandum of understanding sets out what the Department of Trade and Industry and the council can expect from each other.
It places the council at the centre of the DTI’s discussions with the engineering profession and should turn an unsatisfactory relationship into a positive one.
But the signing of the agreement is just the beginning and the Engineering Council faces a much more difficult job.
It needs to create a structure that allows its officials and committee heads to speak with confidence and the backing of its member institutions. The structure must allow its spokesmen to be brave, confident and to be able to react with speed to news and events. An effective system is vital to allow the council to put engineering’s view on technology, education and industrial strategy issues.
A single powerful voice, heard in the corridors of power, is vital for engineers and manufacturing industry. It is critical to build the image of a self-reliant, highly and widely respected profession.
The prospect of a new Labour Government, with new policies and ideas, means that the Engineering Council’s job is all the more urgent.