I always enjoy the dinners of the Sainsbury Management Fellows as it is good to spend time in the company of people who share one’s views on the importance of enterprise and wealth creation, but equally see a distinction between wealth creation and wealth appropriation.
It is also encouraging to see each year the increasing contribution the Sainsbury Management Fellows are making to the UK economy.
I am delighted that SMFs continue to help with the selection and mentoring of Royal Academy of Engineering’s Engineering Leadership Award Winners and that you participated in the Academy’s Executive Engineers’ Programme.
I am also extremely pleased that SMFs have volunteered to help out with the Enterprise Hub, the Royal Academy of Engineering’s exciting initiative to encourage business minded UK based engineers to start their own companies.
When I met Sir John Parker, the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering recently he was very complimentary about the work of the Sainsbury Management Fellows seeing the Society as a great resource for the Academy.
I am also delighted to see that the Silicon Valley Internship Programme, launched by Sainsbury Management Fellow Michael Hughes to inspire entrepreneurialism in the UK, is now in its second year and proving very successful. And, the Sainsbury Management Fellows’ survey launched in January 2014 shows the fellows continue to make a huge contribution to the economy:
- 220 fellows have helped further develop some of the UK’s largest corporations, enhancing economic wealth
- 40% of respondents are members of executive boards across the major corporate and SME sectors
- 150 SMFs have founded businesses with a total value in excess of 4.5 billion, employing over 18,000 people
- Over 270 newly founded businesses are still in operations
That seems to me to be a very impressive performance, of which you can all be very proud.
I would also like to mention two other projects with which I am involved and where you may be able to help. The first is Gatsby’s project to increase the number of registered technicians. I think finally that engineers, policy makers and employers are beginning to wake up to the fact that a shortage of trained technicians is holding back our economy, and the number of registered engineering technicians is now beginning to rise for the first time in many years. While still small in number – just 15,000 of the 1 million engineering technicians in the UK are professionally registered – major efforts are now underway to increase the numbers.
In a unique venture, for example, the three largest professional bodies in engineering are working together on a joint project which aims to register 100,000 engineering technicians in the next five years. Alongside this work by the sector itself, the government is currently reforming the apprenticeship system, and the new apprenticeships in engineering, science and IT which will begin to be rolled out from this year will be required to link to the technician registration standards.
The Trade Unions are also supporting technician registration as they can see the benefits of an increased focus on professional development for their members.
Those of you who have graduated from the Sainsbury Management Fellowship Scheme know better than most the rewards that can accrue from an investment in early-career professional development.
This is as true for engineering technicians as it is for engineers like yourselves, and I would urge you, therefore, to help promote technician registration in the companies in which you work and encourage the technicians who work alongside you to become registered.
I would also like to mention the attempt of Pfizer to take over AstraZeneca. I have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks trying to rally people opposed to this takeover, as it seems to me to be a clear case of wealth appropriation rather than wealth creation, and because it will lead to the dismemberment of an excellent and strategically important British company. It is not a case of a failing British company being taken over by a successful foreign company but of a failing foreign company, fuelled by tax avoidance, trying to take over a British company which has a good pipeline of new drugs.
If there is anything you can do to get the Government to take a tougher stand, by writing letters to newspapers or seeing your MP, please do so, because the Government needs to be pushed into trying to stop this deal.
Finally, can I say that I am delighted that the SMF fundraising programme is underway and that some SMFs have already donated generously. I hope that many more of you will come and join in with the SMFs that are helping to extend the vision of the society into the future.
It give me great pleasure to see the way the Sainsbury Management Fellows are contributing to the economy and society, and I hope that you in turn are proud of what you are achieving.