Wednesday, April 5

The Emperors New Clothes

Who's interested in being an engineer or a scientist? All those white coats and hard-hats. Science based careers do suffer from a bad image in the UK and USA. When I was at school Design and Technology comprised mostly of various forms of destructive testing. I am sure there must be some educational benefit from melting coins under a gas powered torch.

In Asia, the engineers are economic heroes - designing multi-million dollar factories, crafting cityscapes and inventing new technology. It must be the most exciting profession. As an Asian engineer you are in demand and investors have huge sums of money for you to create the world's grandest schemes. China created 600,000 engineering graduates against the USA's 135,000 last year.

Ted Fishman, China Inc: "Just as China's abundant unskilled workers feed the world more shoes and more gadgets than it needs - China's newly skilled industrialists threatens to swamp the world's most highly prized high-tech markets."

In his book, Fishman talks of the industrial R&D spend in China being second only to the USA and Japan. Last year, the Peoples Daily reported China will be spend more of its GDP on R&D than the whole of the EU. Motorola, one of the first telcos to step into China, has 19 R&D centres in China.
Siemen's has forty-five companies in China, 30,000 people and sold $5billion of equipment to the country in 2003. Most of Siemen's equipment sales are high end machinery and technology needed for R&D and world-class production facilities.

UK industry appears to be 'the emperors new clothes' built almost entirely on light manufacturing and services. Certainly in our lifetime 'the UK emperor' might be embarrassed to find its new clothes are easily taken away.

It strikes me as time for technology and digital industry in the West to forge strong relationships with Eastern cousins.


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