Supply and Demand

Welcome to the latest edition of Valve User magazine!

BVAA Director Rob Bartlett

In this issue, I’m delighted to bring to readers the first in a series of insightful articles from ITR Economics, recommending ‘invest in the future’ – the theme of my own ‘Comment’ last time.

I lately attended a conference on ‘the young’ - another investment I’m prone to bang on about. Since most of my working life I’ve usually been the youngest in the room, this perhaps comes partly from a sense of selfpreservation!

Skills shortages abound in engineering. Training, apprenticeships – and crucially competences - are only relatively recently on the radar outside manufacturing. However it seems it’s largely up to us to plug the gaps in our own industry right now, as clearly we cannot yet count on the Government or the educationalists to routinely deliver the new ‘raw material’ we need.

Like all the boys in my year, I remember being introduced to ‘Technical Drawing’ at the tender age of 11. I was encouraged to choose that and another engineering subject at age 16, along with ‘Metalwork’ – a once independent subject long-since distilled to be a tiny part of a subject now called ‘Design & Technology’ - which I can advise contains precious little of either commodity! At 16½, I unsurprisingly became an engineering apprentice. My humble school was, from the moment I arrived, preparing me for a career in a buoyant local industry, which needed regular injections of new blood.

At my ‘youth’ conference, the predominantly ‘grey’ delegates - company bosses mainly - were advised to expect new young employees to arrive probably having never had any previous paid work, without any social or indeed actual skills, and to accept they would: - work erratic hours, ‘socially network’ constantly while at the workplace, probably ignore instructions they didn’t like and hold unrealistic expectations about their future prospects. Indeed I was once asked by an employee when they could expect a management post – just weeks after starting their first ever job! (see page 20).

At a time of very-high unemployment in the young, it’s perhaps time that the education system responded to supply and demand, and at least offered potential employers better material, and their students a better prospect of long-term employment. It’s also incumbent on industry – via local schools and colleges - to encourage them to deliver what we need (see page 84).

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 23


Summer 2020 // Issue 53
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