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Old 20th May 2019, 12:04   #91
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Originally Posted by mss View Post
I find your post really strange - you compare trained technicians with a History graduate who for some reason was put in a technical environment.
I was based at the Plessey Telecomms R&D centre called Taplow Court - a manor overlooking the Thames in Berkshire.

My point was exactly that in this case. Human Resources or the Personnel Department as it was then, did the graduate employment selection, and they decided he was going to go down the technical route. He wasn't the only one we had English Lit graduates too. I have know idea who made those decisions but only during their training, which was more often than not done as they were involved in projects, did we find out if they had the potential. Some were very good others the opposite. Most did have the appropriate qualifications and they fared better.

A department was set up to run parallel to the Engineering Design Department called Mechanisation. They were mainly put in here with a small number of apprentice trained young draftsmen and qualified engineers to supervise, me one of them, to come up with ideas and put them into practice. It was this that failed so often, they couldn't, they didn't have the experience to solve problems and resolve manufacturing issues. Often they would not take supervision and would blindly go off on the wrong road. They knew best, they had been told at selection that they were chosen because they were the best and this sadly went to their heads. It was very frustrating. At the same time the Design department were doing the same things with experienced engineers, mostly apprentice trained, and fewer graduates. They were more successful and after a few months, after those who make the decisions realised I was about to move on, I was asked to go back into that department to run a team doing the same work. Both departments still ran in parallel doing similar work. To me and others this was a total waste of money. A lot of positive and negative competition between the departments was created, probably deliberately, but the engineering side always performed better. I was then given a totally free hand with a colleague from Production Engineering to go anywhere, look at any process to research and develop ideas to increase productivity. The only restriction, if it could be called that, was if I we mess up big time and loose them money we get fired. At the same time my design section would still be tasked with having to come up with the day to day solutions and ideas. It was exciting times, I enjoyed it immensely.

My time with Plessey ended before yours commenced so it looks as though the way things were done by then were improved. I was originally employed by Ericsson's Telecommunications in Beeston which was taken over by Plessey and then I moved to Sunderland. I was involved with projects across the north in Sunderland, South Shields, Liverpool, Wigan, Kirby etc. I left and went to GEC in 1976 after the Government gave an order that would give us nine years of production on the old STD systems mainly for spare parts. We were heavily involved in the development of System X with a new training centre just completed and installation of new equipment just going into a clean manufacturing plant when the Government changed its mind, saying they had miscalculated and didn't need any of the order. The plan was to introduce manufacture of System X as production of STD equipment ran down and finance it with that order. Thousands lost their jobs over night, finding out by watching the 9.00 news. I was promised a position back in Beeston once everything was finalised and in addition given the task of finding replacement products to manufacture to retain as much as possible.

I had managed to find enough work to keep part of the Sunderland plant open and South Shields would continue because its production was not effected as much. The unions however decided that because some of the work was going to make people redundant in Wigan they would block it. The Swindon factory took the work with open arms and that pronounced the final nail for Sunderland and the Wigan factory was still shut down. My career was secure back in the Midlands but GEC offered me a position which I took. Looking back that may have been an error, GEC were then nothing like as forward thinking as I was used to, so moved on after a year into new fields that were again exciting and motivating. A couple of years later my new employers were approached by GEC to help out with an issue. I was sent and was a bit apprehensive but the reception I got surprised me, they treated me like a long lost returning relative. They obviously thought more of me than I did of them.
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