At its annual dinner last week, the UK Electronic Engineering Association reported that its membership sales rose 12% to over UKP3,700m last year, contributing nearly 10% of the gross domestic product, but it also warned that the UK’s industrial future was looking bleak and, in evidence, pointed to the country’s net manufacturing deficit. The Association’s […]
At its annual dinner last week, the UK Electronic Engineering Association reported that its membership sales rose 12% to over UKP3,700m last year, contributing nearly 10% of the gross domestic product, but it also warned that the UK’s industrial future was looking bleak and, in evidence, pointed to the country’s net manufacturing deficit. The Association’s new president, John Chisholm (UK Managing Director of Sema Group Plc) took the opportunity to explain where, in response to industrial difficulties, it planned to focus its attentions in the coming year. Firstly, it believes that more UK electronics companies should be encouraged to increase their research and development programmes in areas such as computing, software, consumer electronics and components, and it is setting up a working party of council members to draw up a set of initiatives to address this problem. Secondly, the Association will continue to prepare members for the European single market through its Single Market Committee, and claims that all of its 63 members already have 1992 steering committees or dedicated executives. As regards the demographic problem, Chisholm pledged that the Association would do all in its power to make electronic engineering more attractive to young people, including young women. A first step in that direction might be to brush up on semantics. Finally, the Association accused the government of stirring up a primeval soup through its Darwinian industrial strategy which was not appropriate to the co-operation implicit in the single European market. Indeed, the Association wants more government involvement in information technology procurement, especially in the areas of defence avionics and air traffic management. In this respect it was not happy with the Minister for Trade’s response as he came hotfoot from the Select Committee’s meeting with Lord Young. Although news that the Department of Trade & Industry and Science & Engineering Research Council are to give UKP15m to the LINK Optoelectronics Systems programme, and a further UKP7m to the Information Engineering Advanced Technology Programme was welcome, the Association was clearly disappointed that the meeting had obviously not engendered any change regarding the government’s approach to procurement policy. All in all it was not the most auspicious beginning for Mr Chisholm’s presidency. Tina Knight, managing director of computer face company Nighthawk Electronics (CI No 1,092) has won the Technology or Business Innovation in Electronics Award for Electronics Personality of the Year. She is the first woman to win one of these awards, but is unlikely to be the last.