When a government announces such a huge initiative as redirecting the nation towards “a knowledge- based economy” you may have thought that it was a thought-through strategy with analysis and data to support it.
Well no, it just sounded good and went down well with the m edia and voters. There was no strategy or analysis or any knowledgeable thought process to it.
Instead we set off creating lots of knowledge, regardless of whether we need it or not. We had our great institutions create meaningless degrees which they could fund through student debt. No doubt, a stored-up national debt, to be picked up by taxpayers later when not fully repaid.
But this strategy failed to address the issue of those that would not be able to partake in this advanced knowledge-based economy.
As a nation we have to accept that statistics show we are everything from genius to idiots. We need an economy to create jobs and wealth for all, not just the gifted few.
If we want to redress the balance of the economy to manufacturing and export we need to firstly create the demand for the education and training that it needs.
Has engineering and manufacturing declined because of a lack of education and training or declined through market pressures? The universities do a great job of training excellent graduates in engineering and science and that should increase engineering and manufacturing output.
The reality is most graduates are from overseas competitors in the far-east and developing nations. You could argue that this strategy works, so why don’t we try that at home?
Should we not incentivise universities and students to fill 90 per cent of engineering and science places with our own citizens?
We need gifted people to create amazing products and large businesses that create jobs and wealth that can be shared by all in our society.
We need to establish a culture that encourages intellectual property rights to stay in the UK and long-term funding streams to set up large-scale manufacturing operations.
As a nation we should be doing this for ourselves not selling ourselves out.
Vince Middleton is chairman of Newburgh Engineering