In a recent article in the Guardian Jonathan Glancey decries the decline of Britain’s engineering culture and argues that its industrial future is threatened by a lack of skilled workers and a glut of postmodern apathy. (Extinction of the engineers, Jonathan Glancey, Guardian, October 15, 2007)
It is no surprise that, as Glancey observes,“we have come to believe that we are a nation of consumers rather than producers”. Every political grouping, from the Tories via New Labour to the environmentalists, is obsessed with people’s consumption, and uninterested our primary activity as producers and problem solvers.
Little praise is reserved for the modern marvels created by engineering
And this lack of interest in engineering in the UK isn’t simply a product of an ill-informed or out-of-date public image of the engineer (pace Tim Feest, Letters, October 16). For all of New Labour’s celebration of innovation and creativity, little praise is reserved for the modern marvels created by engineering and its associated professions: from aeroplanes to power stations, automobiles to mobile phones, and the amazing infrastructures that support them. Instead, the debate around these wonderful engineering products focuses from the outset on their role in ‘destroying the planet’, despoiling our environment and degrading our health.
Who would want to be an engineer when instead of being celebrated for helping solve society’s problems one is more likely to be ignored, and have one’s own creations treated as problems?
See my related article London: still stuck in a jam, Nico Macdonald, spiked, 19 March 2007 which addresses this theme in its conclusion