IET
Decrease font size
Increase font size
Topic Title: A little of history :The engineering technician: dilemmas of a marginal occupation
Topic Summary:
Created On: 10 August 2010 12:24 PM
Status: Read Only
Linear : Threading : Single : Branch
Search Topic Search Topic
Topic Tools Topic Tools
View similar topics View similar topics
View topic in raw text format. Print this topic.
 10 August 2010 12:24 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



sunnyboy

Posts: 323
Joined: 12 October 2004

 10 August 2010 01:06 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



basil.wallace

Posts: 217
Joined: 01 April 2006

Very interesting document.

What a pity that our UK technical education and training systems are in such a mess!

If only we learnt the lessons of the past, extracted the workable bits and discarded the unworkable bits!

--------------------------------------------------
Basil Wallace PgDip EngTech MIET
 12 August 2010 10:09 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



roybowdler

Posts: 276
Joined: 25 July 2008

A very interesting post Luciano

I didn't read the first dissertation fully but the premise and perspective looks interesting. It is common to find echoes in the past in current debates and this is a good example. Cynics use phrases like "reinventing the wheel" but I would refer to the concept of the "hermeneutic spiral" - i.e. we revisit issues building on earlier understanding.

I gave the second article more attention, partly as it was easier to read, but also as directly relevant to my personal experience and professional interests.

On a minor note of accuracy, the impression is given that the G&T courses (wait for the punch line - no they were at college not the golf club )were phased out shortly after 1969. In fact I did G2 (or G*) & T2 in 1976/77. In the following year colleges where I lived went over to TEC which later became BTEC, subsuming ONC & HNC courses.

On the authors philosophical thread that "vocational" learning has been given less status than "academic" I have to agree. I have a particular memory of being invited to an event to discuss the new NVQs (or Envy Queues as a colleague termed them ). A slide was put up comparing different qualifications headed "parity of esteem" and it was stated, to my surprise that 2 A levels was the equivalent of a level 3. This is still the same under the latest Qualifications and Credit Framework. Therefore simplistically someone who has completed up to a four year apprenticeship with its associated knowledge and may be eligible to be on the Engineering Council Register as a Technician is "comparable" to someone who has studied at a secondary school to age 18.

However I don't share all of the authors interpretations.

I would suggest that one of the most important roles that the IET can perform is to help encourage dialogue, partnership and collaboration between industrial and academic colleagues, to address both the art and the science of engineering. The "practical v academic" is in part a false dichotomy and I see many encouraging signs of this becoming more of a continuum. I will illustrate with an example drawn from the the
technician theme of the first article. ICT technologies have led to many technician roles having more of a knowledge than craft basis. The IET has therefore recently begun awarding technician registration to university graduates who by their year in industry developed their vocational skills as well as becoming the holder of a good technical degree.

The first meeting of a new Technican Council was held recently of which the IET is a member. If someone wants to offer any future visions now could be an opportune moment.

-------------------------
Roy Bowdler IEng FIET FCIPD
IET Registration & Standards
 12 August 2010 02:14 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Originally posted by: roybowdler
In the following year colleges where I lived went over to TEC which later became BTEC, subsuming ONC & HNC courses.

TEC stood for Technician Education Council . With the introduction of the new Technician Council , we seem to have come round a full circle. Having done the TEC HD and gained varied technical experience in my career, I represent the success of the TEC courses. At the same time I represent it's failure thanks to the University brigade who ran institutions like the IEE, CEI and EC. They down played our achievement which meant highly skilled engineers like me did not get on the register. My excuse is that I never felt confident in applying for it because of the BS that came out from engineers educated from places like Imperial College. And then of course I had to endure the fact that I didn't achieve an IEE accredited degree nor the IEE accredited training. So I stayed out of registration out of mistrust of the system which I felt favoured University educated engineers.

to my surprise that 2 A levels was the equivalent of a level 3.

On the face of it I would agree with your assessment. However I have seen people with A level education achieve greater career development than those who started of as highly trained engineering technicians. A level people are resourceful and highly adaptable to changing circumstances. Many senior group managers in my work place are only A Level educated. They started off as trainees and quickly climbed the ladder to positions of authority. Some of them are on salaries of around £100K. It wouldn't surprise me if A level people were on the various panels you mentioned. Therefore I would agree with A level being at level 3 or even higher.

The IET has therefore recently begun awarding technician registration to university graduates who by their year in industry developed their vocational skills as well as becoming the holder of a good technical degree.

If graduates with 1 year of experience are good enough to be EngTechs, then why not those with MIET? After all membership require a degree level qualification and several years of experience. Why not award all MIET members EngTechs registration by default? At the end of the day if the government were to ask the IET and EC how many engineers and technicians the UK had at it's disposal? Would the EC count only those on the EC register? Would that be an accurate assessment of the numbers in the UK?

The first meeting of a new Technican Council was held recently of which the IET is a member. If someone wants to offer any future visions now could be an opportune moment.

As in all cases these things involve people with University Education (probably all from Imperial College ) with no knowledge of technician level expertise. The long term result will be a resounding failure. If they want my advise, let the IEngs and EngTechs run the Council. University Graduates can be brilliant at conceiving new ideas, like setting up the profession made up of the IEE and the CEI etc, but they are awful at seeing their project through to the end. This is why we now have the IET and EC. Tomorrow there'll be something else in their place.

The medical profession keeps registers of the available number of Doctors and Nurses, and not an elite few Doctors and Nurses. The IET and EC need to change the way they register Engineers and Technicians to reflect the true numbers in industry and not just a register of an elite few who came through as a result of the rigorous application and interview process.

Edited: 12 August 2010 at 07:45 PM by mbirdi
 13 August 2010 03:21 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



roybowdler

Posts: 276
Joined: 25 July 2008

At the risk of encouraging you (which I am sure you don't need) many people will empathise with your initial point, although Imperial College may not have offended them.

As the default position, 95% of people who remain in school to age 18 will get some A levels (or equivalent - prepare for the barrage if this post was in the Times Educational Supplement or The Guardian). Many Technicians in more recent years will also have remained in full time education to age 18. So I agree with your point that A level achievement demonstrates the potential to succeed and correlates well with actual career success. However selection and streaming post 18 are a factor in the correlation, as "doors open and close" on the basis of A level results.

The points about MIET and the EC register are well made and deserve further consideration.

To the last point I would agree if we rephrased to the "elite many" who have demonstrated competence and professionalism. I would argue for rigorous assessment, but with ease of access to the assessment. A good engineering degree (and one from Imperial College would be good) should be rightly valued, but so should achievement demonstrated in other ways.

There might be merit in a non-assessed register, which would allow people to declare themselves as "practitioners" and at least be regulated in some way? This happens in some medically related areas, but I assume that has it been considered and rejected in the past.

-------------------------
Roy Bowdler IEng FIET FCIPD
IET Registration & Standards
 13 August 2010 04:49 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

I appreciate your thoughtful comments Roy.

Why Imperial College and why the connection with the IET?

No other University in the UK, except IC, have put this statement out to non A Level applicants. Stroll down to Entry qualifications:

http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/ele...issions/undergraduate

IC rejects non-A Level applicants, but have never given any reasonable explanation for it. Most annoyning

The IET have made similar decisions over various things in the past, and never provided reasonable explanation for them. Your last comment about IET awarding EngTech to graduates with 1 year experience, but omitting to explain why MIET members wouldn't qualify for such award is typical IC style decision making.

IC must have considerable presence in the IET or at the very least have left their DNA firmly implanted in the echelons of the IET. Therefore when I choose to give the IET a good bashing, I have to include IC as well. And vice versa.

Of course this is just light hearted speculation on my part.

Edited: 13 August 2010 at 06:21 PM by mbirdi
 17 August 2010 01:39 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



roybowdler

Posts: 276
Joined: 25 July 2008

On the issue of members with MIET - Technician registration is an option that they may want to consider. It can't be made the default position as the requirements of each award are different. But the increasing number of technicians with degrees or other higher education qualifications suggests that MIET and TMIET criteria may have to evolve. Any changes will take time and consideration by the Board of Trustees, certainly not in my gift

The A level issue will dominate the news agenda again this week as the A level results are about to be announced. I am not familiar with the specific entry criteria for the many university courses. Therefore I could only observe that in a situation where demand exceeds supply there has to be a basis for selection or a pricing mechanism.

I am more familiar with recruitment for business where many employers will reject graduate applicants with less than a 2:1 or from certain universities. This is often not based on good evidence of a correlation between this selection criteria and subsequent performance. However it acts a filter to limit the pool of suitable applicants to a manageable level.

There is no perfect selection mechanism for education and employment (or professional body recognition for that matter). However exclusion causes disappointment, leading where there is a perception of unfairness, to potential bitterness and anger. There are still many people around who were selected and streamed at age 11 and I understand that GCEs used to be norm-referenced, rather than criterion-referenced (i.e. the bottom 40% of entrants fail). I would suggest therefore that there is an important ethics issue, which organisations seeking a good reputation or public funds need to consider. The IET is active in encouraging young people towards an engineering career in whatever its form and supporting achievement within that career, but there are other professional bodies who continue to choose a narrower and more exclusive path.

I understand that the new government is to continue work begun by the last one, leading to the report "fair access to the professions". I take this as a consensus acknowledging that "unfairness" (a concept in the eye of the beholder) exists.

My own observation is that engineering in general and the IET in particular have moved to address the issues in the last few years. The current UK-SPEC standard for professional registration describes professional competence, supported by (ideal) exemplifying qualifications, allowing for a more balanced and pragmatic approach.

A significant number of universities and colleges now specialise in providing part-time and distance learning opportunities open to experienced practitioners and closely linked to work practice. There are also significant numbers of engineers registered in the UK who demonstrated competence by acquiring their underpinning knowledge through a combination of formal, self-managed and work-based learning. Unfortunately this does cause issues in many overseas jurisdictions, where completion of specific university courses is an absolute requirement.

I am not personally aware of any disproportionate influence on the IET by Imperial College or vice-versa. I did attend a building services engineering event held at the university one evening last year and I felt socially awkward. Entirely my own fault as the attendees were a group of quiet, studious, very internationally and ethnically diverse young people. Sometimes I can qualify as a younger member on the basis of being below the mean age of attendees, but certainly not on that occasion

-------------------------
Roy Bowdler IEng FIET FCIPD
IET Registration & Standards
 17 August 2010 01:56 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



mbirdi

Posts: 1907
Joined: 13 June 2005

Yesterday's News Night program did an article on University entrance, followed by a debate.
Statistics

See Also:



FuseTalk Standard Edition v3.2 - © 1999-2014 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.