20 June 2001.


In Australia we know the value of managers.  We give them huge salaries and enormous "performance" payments, which they seem to get whether the company performs or not.  The chief saving that these managers seem to make is to cut the salaries of all other employees to the bone.  Engineers and technical staff do not need to be "top of the line" because all of our technology is imported.  Typically our high priced managers attempt to buy other peoples' mature technological assets at inflated prices.

There are a few ultra high tech Australian companies that could have profited from top technological talent.  Leading telephone company Telstra had to let go a lucrative Radar contract with the military because it had insufficient tech savvy.  Rumor has it that No. 2 telco Optus did not roll out it's copper because it could not get the dialling equipment in the exchange working properly, and third ranking telco probably failed because it's billing software did not work.

So why doesn't Australia have engineering talent?  Perhaps Australians are genetically dumber than the rest of the world?

Well.  That must be it.  Or it will be soon.  Any home grown talent migrates overseas where it gets paid properly (i.e. more than the local managerial talent).  This shows a distinct lack of patriotism, but a quite reasonable amount of common sense.

"Why weren't they paid more?" you ask.  Perhaps you will have to ask our managers.  It seems that if engineers were paid more, then the managers would have to get more (because obviously, managers are cleverer than engineers, so must get paid more than engineers).

In the USA the original Bell corporation solved the problem by only allowing engineers to be managers.  Presumably the baby bells have followed that tradition.  And companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Apple, Oracle . .etc. are managed by their (technologist) founders.  (Apple tried doing without a technologist/founder manager for a while.  They hired a top accountant as CEO.  Within a few years the company started going broke, so they sacked the accountant & hired back the technologist/founder.  Now they are back with the leaders.)

In Australia the situation worsens due to government policy and trade union action. Our schools have a surfeit of art, music, humanities (including English) & PE teachers.  Science and Math teachers are in such short supply that frequently it is the qualified needlework or English teacher who teaches the year 12 math & science classes.  (They get the same money as the math/science teacher, so why not?)  In the interests of "affirmative action" we have "dumbed down" our math & science courses, and reduced their weighting for university entrance.   This has helped "disadvantaged females", who traditionally performed less well in those subjects.  Since then our school age male suicide rate has skyrocketed.  The feminist response is "well, they had it good up to now, so tough luck!"

Now that (most) math & (most) science courses have more "concrete" & less "theoretical" content, the girls are doing as well in those subjects as the boys.   In schools, male teachers are becoming less a minority, more a memory.

Pity we can't persuade equal numbers of girls to try for engineering.  Oh well, why worry?

They'll get just as much money if they teach flower arranging or secretarial studies.


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