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A price to pay for technical skills

Letters

In Sydney Lenssen's address as reported by Mark Hansford, he points to a gap between management and designers as the cause of a number of high profile failures in the past - 1970s bridge failures.

He said that the best designers and builders were quickly promoted upwards into management and believes this situation has not changed.

This will strike a chord with many of us.

Although some engineers have managed to maintain contact with the technical work throughout their careers, employers and the professions have consistently promoted management.

In work, better pay and prospects have been aimed at managers rather than technical personnel who get sidelined during restructuring and takeovers.

In the last 10 years the professions have emphasised development of competency in non-technical areas, taking sound engineering skills almost for granted. Given this emphasis on management it is not surprising that young engineers do not see themselves doing technical work for long.

Lenssen is right to indicate that management needs to know more about the technical detail of the work being done. However, he missed the key point - there must be better prospects for promotion, and therefore pay, of technical staff so that the best want to keep doing engineering.

Michael Johnson (F), Bromley, Kent BR2 0NJ

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