I like ranting, it’s good for the soul, just not too often perhaps. I ranted last week for example, specifically by letter to the insurance company Allianz, who I noticed politely told me they were going to share my details with other group and third party companies, but gave me no option to opt out of marketing material other than to write in to their head office! I can say I was quite pleased to not only receive a contrite letter from their complaints department, but also a personal call. It appears that as a result of my letter, they will consider reviewing their policy.
Boosted by my success, I’ve just shot off another rant, this one to the Institute of Engineers and Technicians (IET) who used to be called the IEE, a world recognised brand that they threw away in a moment of madness, but that’s another story. As a member of the IET and a Chartered Engineer, I get the monthly mags and the letters page is often filled with members bemoaning the state of the term “Engineer” and how Engineer means Mechanic to most people. Anyway, here’s my letter for your enjoyment:
I see that that perennial discussion about the wretched misuse of the title Engineer has reared its head again. I find it amazing that given the practical, common sense abound members of our organisation, ideas such as inventing a whole new title but that’s almost like the old one (Ingeneer!?!) are touted without thought to the cost and time implications and the likely chance of success of rebranding an established profession. Especially when such a simple and obvious alternative already exists.
Let’s apply our engineering minds to this issue and start by defining clearly the core problem. We would like a title that is legally protected and which the general public associate with having some level of enhanced skill and ability. In essence, we want to be seen to be a cut above the hoi polloi of people who simply fix stuff. (I will ignore the obvious debate about whether such an elitist goal is deserving of our learned efforts, or morally bankrupt in a classless society.)
On to the solution, ask a member of the public which is “better”: an Accountant or a Chartered Accountant; a Surveyor or a Chartered Surveyor; and Engineer or a Chartered Engineer? Oh, and there’s the answer! We already have a legally protected title that the public already understand to be a mark of some distinction, however few of us use it, even fewer companies advertise that they employ Chartered Engineers and I don’t ever remember the term being used on the news to describe an expert interviewee for example.
In my experience when asked what I do, if I reply that I’m a Chartered Engineer it always elicits a markedly different response to any other answer I may give. And as often as not, the next question is: “So what makes a Chartered Engineer different from a normal Engineer?” to which you can point out that the required 7 years of monitored education, training and work followed by an assessment interview, is the same amount of time it takes to become a medical Doctor. I guarantee that the recipient of such an introduction won’t class you in the “Upholstery Engineer, no experience necessary, clean driving license preferred” category. Yes that was an actual job ad I saw in the local paper once!
I wonder if they will publish it?