Recognition impossible?

Our anonymous blogger adds his, or her, voice to the ever-emotive debate on the status of engineers

There used to be a British Gas advert that really annoyed me. After a small dispute with them we switched providers but they kept trying to get us back using aggressive cold-calling tactics. I told them to stop many times, but it took ages. Then they used some music in their adverts that I disliked (Queen, One Vision, if you’re interested). The final insult, however, was that they referred to their fitters as engineers. For a long time I thought they were wrong to do that, but I think I have changed my mind now.

The Engineering Council proclaims that it “continually works to increase recognition of our engineering professionals”.  Their website also states that, “Commonplace use of the word engineer in our language has evolved over many centuries. Hence anyone in the UK may describe themselves as an engineer. Seeking to regulate or legislate on the use of a now common term is recognised by the Engineering Council as totally impractical.”

I’m not going to dwell on this other than to say that I don’t actually believe it and that perhaps the only way to gain traction for the idea would be if we all stopped paying our subscriptions to the Engineering Council. If we took them to the brink of bankruptcy, it might force them to take action.

Most readers are probably familiar with the story, that when school children were asked to name a famous engineer they came up with Kevin Webster, the car mechanic in Coronation Street. 

Now, when the IMechE offered IEng and EngTech (in addition to CEng) I thought that they were just looking for more subscriptions. But what if we used the fact that Kevin Webster is our most famous ‘engineer’ to our advantage? What if we could get registration as EngTech as a requirement to be an MOT inspector and as a pre-requisite for registration on the Good Garage Scheme?

If we could get Coronation Street to mention the need for IMechE registration in a storyline, the advertising would be incredible. What if EngTech was a requirement for registration on the Gas Safe (formally CORGI) scheme and for the NICEIC scheme for electricians?Increasing awareness of the institutions, and professional recognition generally, can surely only be a good thing. Then we might refine the definitions of EngTech, IEng and CEng to something a bit more tangible (the Engineering Council definitions are somewhat esoteric).

I propose: EngTech fixes things, IEng designs things and CEng is in charge of designing things (or designs really new stuff).  Then we might start to make a connection. I think the general public probably understands that it takes a Kevin Webster type engineer to fix their car, but different types of engineer to design and build it in the first place.

British Gas has now stopped cold-calling and I don’t mind the A-team music, so all we need to do is to get the institutions or Engineering Council to work with British Gas to get their fitters registered as EngTechs and then their adverts won’t bother me at all.