Opinion – Old man creates tofu pudding-making robot – People’s Daily Online

English: Logo of the People's Daily 中文: 人民日报题字

English: Logo of the People’s Daily 中文: 人民日报题字 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an amazing, must-read article, with some great photos, published by People’s Daily, China’s leading newspaper. Check it out!

via Old man creates tofu pudding-making robot – People’s Daily Online.

It worth reflecting on the facts and implications. The inventor is 72 years of age. It happened in China. The robot automates a repetitive task in a small restaurant.

Fast-track to the UK and consider why similar innovation is not happening up and down the UK?

I don’t know the answer but having been the European General Manager of a US manufacturing multi-national, I have a few powerful insights about the UK:

  • Engineering as a profession has long been out of fashion
  • Engineering is associated with dirty finger nails and wearing overalls
  • Engineering is considered a cop-out degree – you take engineering when your grades are a bit questionable
  • Engineers frequently need to re-invent themselves and take an MBA
  • Britain‘s engineering companies disappeared in the seventies, when trade unions drove manufacturing overseas
  • The fast-track route to general management in the UK is via sales and marketing, or possibly finance but very rarely engineering
  • Britain has always been on the forefront of scientific breakthrough but loses out on development
  • The UK record on start-ups has always trailed the US and now Berlin is overtaking London
  • Financial services has increasingly captured the lion’s share of investment and the UK’s graduate talent
  • A short-termism pervades British businesses
  • Accountants carry too much sway compared to engineers – I’m a Chartered Accountant 🙂
  • Britain is deeply biased against older people’s capabilities and achievements
  • UK governments have repeatedly ignored the need for an industry strategy, looking at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
  • Financial services has leveraged its power with highly effective lobbying
  • Banks prefer consumer credit on scoring models rather than trying to understand small businesses and delivering innovation and development

Above I have focused upon the UK but the point is generalizable across Europe and raises profound questions about the EU’s policies.

Let me ask an open question about innovation and development in modern Europe:

Do you think that any European country could spawn the local equivalent of the robot for tofu pudding making?


Where Will All the Workers Go? by Nouriel Roubini – Project Syndicate

The social self.

The social self. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dfes sanctuary bdgs

Dfes sanctuary bdgs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you worried about work, for yourself, partner, children or perhaps grand-children? Then you must read this article by Nouriel Roubini, published in Project Syndicate.

via Where Will All the Workers Go? by Nouriel Roubini – Project Syndicate.

So what’s the advice of an old grey-board, like myself?

Firstly, education is still vastly important. Look at unemployment statistics across the world, unemployment is always much higher for the least educated. BUT, choosing the right education and subject specialization is still critical. Also where you live, in terms of state-education is paramount.

Secondly, be prepared to seriously re-skill. In terms of skills, apply some brainstorming. Imagine that you lose your job because you’re surplus to requirements or you have an industrial injury – increasingly many people can’t cope and it leads to drink, drugs or mental illness. So try to take some courses that spread your risk. Language courses are a great choice but try to match it to potential work opportunities. Practical training is always helpful too – by this I mean doing things with your hands not just your brain. You can save money by doing jobs yourself. Perhaps, you can consider a micro-business if you are down on your luck?

Thirdly, you must to your homework on technology development and how it will impact your job, career, industry etc. Remember the lower your education and skill-set, the higher the risk. Try to think laterally. If you have a pleasant, outgoing personality what about enhancing your selling skills?

Fourthly, think about taking some time out and re-inventing yourself. My wife and I are passionate independent travelers – travel will deepen your experience of life and gives you new ideas. Apart from anything else, you will meet new people.

Fifthly, you will probably need help from an independent and experienced mentor. Here there are a number of options. Pay top Dollar for an expensive branded solution. Rely on a trusted friend or family member but they’re not truly independent. Look up the latest trends on the internet and rely on social media – the problem here is that they are all peddling something and will try to hook you. My advice is to go for an old grey-beard like myself or John Gelmini – we are always happy to share our expertise.