“You’re wrong!” – Sugar’s bitter take on engineering

Posted on 16 Jun 2011 by The Manufacturer

In last night’s episode of the BBC's The Apprentice, departing contestant and engineer Glen was told by Lord Sugar that engineers very rarely make good businessmen.

“Glen, I’ve never yet come across an engineer that can turn his hand to business, so, you’re fired”. These were the words uttered by Lord Sugar, ejecting Glen from the boardroom and ending his hopes of a £250,000 investment in a new business.

Commenting on the remarks made by Lord Sugar that Engineers don’t make good business leaders, Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF said: “We constantly have to fight outdated perceptions amongst those with influence about the skills and importance of engineers. The list of engineers who have made good entrepreneurs is endless, where their skills are highly prized running small businesses or some of the most successful and respected FTSE companies.”

The issue of manufacturing and engineering having such a poor profile in the UK is a very important one, according to many different trade organizations, including the CBI, and figures in government such as Minister for Business and Enterprise Mark Prisk. Heads of multinational companies such as BAE Systems and trade organisations such as A|D|S continue to express their worries about graduates choosing banking and IT as career choices, preferring desk jobs to often hardworking and technical roles.

“The truth of the matter is we need far more engineers if we are to rebalance the UK’s economy through design, technology and the high value products of the future. Rather than talking down their skills we need to recognise their importance to society and the challenges we face, rather than reinforcing a perception with remarks no matter how off the cuff,” Scuoler added.

George Archer