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Time for action

Professional development Engineering & Technology Board

The Engineering & Technology Board was created in 2002 to represent and promote the profession. Chief executive Alan Clark tells Antony Oliver he is ready to shout about his plans.

To most engineers the work of the Engineering & Technology Board is something of a mystery. ETB chief executive Alan Clark is clearly conscious of this fact, and hands over a weighty bundle of documents as 'evidence' of the last 18 months activity.

'I am very self critical, ' he says. 'What ETB has not been good at is communicating what it has been doing.

We have not communicated sufficiently to registrants, to members or to the wider community.'

That said, Clark is clear that he has delivered on the targets set out in the ETB's first business plan - visit www. etechb. org to see these and more.

But more importantly he is now convinced that the ETB is ready with a much better story to tell about its future.

Clark joined the ETB in April 2002, three months after it was set up alongside ECUK to replace and revamp the old Engineering Council. At that point, he explains, the organisation was just a name.

'Since then I have hired 33 people, ' he says. 'We have formed a company - created the board, the panels, the structure and the methods.'

In this first year he accepts that the ETB perhaps took on too many things which meant that it was harder for engineers to identify distinct activities. As a result, next year will see a concentration on 'fewer things and bigger things' which the engineering community will truly be able to see and support.

And he is clear that it really does matter that engineers recognise the work ETB does on their behalf. 'It matters because these are the people we want to engage in the whole debate on science, engineering and technology, ' he explains.

'But would you expect ETB to have made an impact in its first year of operation? Surely not, ' he insists. 'Will people know that we exist in a year from now? Well, if they don't then we will have done something wrong, ' he adds.

The plan for the next twelve months will focus on three core activities.

ldevelopment and promotion of continuing professional development in the engineering profession.

lassisting knowledge sharing across the profession via a new web portal: www. scenta. org. uk lcreating a high profile national campaign to boost engineering awareness by the general public.

And it is the latter strand that is certainly set to create the most impact and excitement.

'We initially intended to create a campaign promoting engineering to 7-16 year olds, ' explains Clark, referring to last year's business plan. 'But we have changed our minds on that one. We have decided we will now focus our message to the adults and get the public perception going of science, engineering and technology as the wealth creators.'

So when launched on 25 November - the precise nature of the campaign remains a closely guarded secret until then - the programme will concentrate on 'attacking the influencers and making sure that parents say to their children 'why don't you become a engineer' as opposed to a lawyer', he explains.

Creating excitement is the goal. 'Science, engineering and technology offer thrilling careers. And you can make a hell of a lot of money being an engineer, ' Clark insists.

'We have to kill this whining and start celebrating ourselves.

If we don't believe in ourselves then we will never sell it to anybody, let alone the young.

We have a great product here.

We have to sell lifestyle, fun and enjoyment.'

Clark insists he will work very closely with the engineering institutions to ensure they have the support necessary to properly develop and represent their members. This means ensuring that everything that ETB does complements and extends the work of the institutions.

'We want to improve the perception of science, engineering and technology in the wider community and we will be measuring it in a year from now, ' says Clark. 'We also want to see more kids doing science A levels, more people joining universities wanting to be engineers and more people joining the institutions.'

He adds: 'These things don't change overnight. We want to create a deep long lasting effect on the profession.'


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