Telling your kids about the Working World

What should we tell our kids when they want to talk about their future career?

It’s not something I am expecting any time soon with my son, but I do have a wealth of advice on the (surprisingly) large number of crazy companies that are out there. But where to start?…

The Crazy World of Engineering Projects

Seriously. These jobs get crazier every time. I could write a book about the daft things and even more ridiculous people involved on all the work sites I have been on. The problem is that book would be bigger than the complete works of Shakespeare. Too big to pack for a little light holiday reading.

Take this latest one. No names will be used as I don’t fancy going to court. Not for this lot of idiots anyway. Not that I should have anything to fear. I think I would win. The evidence in my favour stacks up daily. But who needs the hassle?

Here’s where it started…

Several months ago, not long after I started on the project, I had the pleasure of sitting in a meeting about how the electrical installation would go down. I was expecting a lot of questions form the main contract company as I knew they had nowhere near enough information to install the system I was working on. But there was silence.

That’s when I knew it was not going to end well. But it got better when I asked about cable numbering. I suggested they start by allocating a block of numbers to each subcontract company and let them get on with the design for their own parts of the job. Quite normal practice. Or so I thought.

The impressively titled person in charge of the meeting jumped straight in with; “What if we run out of numbers?”

Yes, he actually said that. Worse than that he meant it. I was temporarily stunned. Like a rabbit caught the headlights of a car. I glanced at some of my colleagues as if to say, “Please tell me he never actually said that.” But they looked equally stunned.

Is Libel still a crime?

That’s a serious question. If it is then some of these so-called engineering companies would be in deep trouble if anyone of a legal persuasion read their websites. Take this lot for example. Among their many jumped up claims is that they bring over 70 years of experience to the table. In another page they say they have been providing their services for 80 years. It’s the numbers thing again. They can’t even decide how long they have been in the game. Did they spend the first 10 years just deciding on a company name or what? Maybe they didn’t gain any worthwhile ‘experience’ in their first decade.

Anyway, I wasn’t holding my breath waiting to find a ninety-year-old engineer who I could seek advice from. You will not be surprised to hear that I have yet to bump into any nonagenarians on this site.

How can anyone claim to have that many years of experience when they think they may run out of numbers? The mind boggles.

It’s not getting any better…

It gets harder with each year for people like me. Having been brought up in an age where things were done properly. Also, I have had the privilege of working with some bloody good engineers who I have been able to learn from. It is quite alarming that so many seemingly reputable companies do not actually know how to do a job properly.

I am (just about) old enough to remember when projects ran on time and on budget. In these days of PCs, internet and mobile phones they always run late and over budget. Always.

The businesses may be over 80 years old but the people in charge of running the project barely have any experience. And none of it doing the job properly. Sometimes they don’t even understand that numbers are infinite.

Where will it all end son? I wish I could tell you.

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