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For 20 years or so there has been much written about the impending skills shortage in Engineering sectors, due mainly to less and less apprenticeships churning out skilled Engineers. 

We are a nation built on our Engineering pedigree…

Isambard Kingdom Brunel,
George Stephenson,
Harry Ferguson,
Alexander Graham Bell,

…to name a small but extra ordinary few.

This shortage of skilled and experienced Engineers hit full force several years ago.

To paint the picture of the dangerous scenario this shortage is causing below is an “edited” story of a bit of a rant I had on my business FB page. https://www.facebook.com/engineeringsupport247

After a not un-common recent experience. 

Dangerously scary stuff…

I walked in the door this morning and was met by one of the companies Engineers saying a piece of kit is not working… “We’ve got no power in the start circuit”

To which I replied “Have you got 3 phases?” 

Engineer “Well x said there was but the phase relay isn’t on”

Me “Check your phases”

I grabbed my tools, got kitted up to go into the factory and walked out to the line.

By which time the Engineer was staring at the panel trying to read the wiring diagram…

Me “Have you checked the phases?” 

“Errr?”

Me “Just check them there on the Isolator”

He fumbles around testing…

“They look ok”

Me “You’ve actually missed L2 and L3 is reading low”

So I changed the plug to a different socket and the machine magically sprung into life. 

This machine (and the production line) had been down for an hour and all because 2 supposedly “multi skilled Engineers” where unable to perform a very basic check to see if there was 400 volts on all 3 phases. 

Anyone can make a mistake, anyone can have a bad day, this isn’t about that, this is an about an on-going problem and one instance of many multiple instances I could use. 

The biggest problem is the lack of basic skills in the industry, too many people have been thrown into roles as “dual skilled engineers” without the training, experience and mindset to back it up.

The first Engineer/contractor fault finds by replacing parts until he hits the jackpot – I’ve worked with him before and he’s notorious for it, he’s pretty bad , however is by a long shot not one of the worst.

The second didn’t know how to test for 3 phases or what the readings where telling him. This isn’t really his fault it’s the Company/Industry cutting corners that is the root cause.

This corner cutting is costing companies thousands (probably millions £ ) and putting lives at risk.

Companies need to realise that they can’t cut corners by throwing a Multi-Meter and a set of Insulated Screwdrivers at someone and calling them a Muti-Skilled Engineer.

It takes fundamental training, experience and above all a certain aptitude. If you find someone with the above skills it’s worth paying to keep them and giving them a certain control/voice over how the factory is run… But that’s another post for another day.