August 20, 2015

World Skills winners show university not the only way to a brilliant career

Posted in Irish Independent · 67 comments ·

Did you know that Ireland has two new world champions whose achievements should be celebrated, and the significance of their victory should be appreciated in every school up and down the country?

These people won gold in the World Skills games in Brazil last weekend. The four-day World Skills competition dates 7to 1953 and sees 1,200 competitors from 60 countries facing 1,100 expert judges. It is the World Cup for apprentices, craftsmen and young people who can actually do and make things. Remember them?

The World Skills competition occurs every two years and is the biggest vocational education and skills event in the world, truly reflecting global industry. The competitors represent the best of their peers and are selected from skills competitions in member countries. The Irish competitors represent Ireland as in any competition.

The contestants demonstrate technical abilities both individually and collectively to execute specific tasks for which they study and/or perform in their workplace.

During the four days of the competition, more than 250,000 visitors watched the talented entrants compete in 50 skills.

Skills on display included construction, manufacturing, creative arts, information technology, transportation, service, and agricultural sectors.

Ireland sent 14 contestants and won two gold medals; eight other Irish competitors won medallions of excellence, placing Ireland 11th out of 60 countries.

At a wider level, the idea of World Skills is to demonstrate to young people, their teachers and governments that there is an alternative to running an economy solely built on people who have degrees, masters and PhDs.

Yet this week Ireland is in degree frenzy. Amidst the giddy excitement of the points race and the CAO mania, do we ask what are we educating all these tens of thousand of school leavers to do?

Thousands of school leavers are being funnelled into a university industry right now from which many will emerge with absolutely no skills or qualifications bar the faint hope of a dull office job characterised by repetition, internal politics and cubicles. I know that this may sound cynical, but it is the truth.

We are seeing the trivialisation of work across the board, particularly in what used to be called white-collar work, in offices, large companies and the civil service.

In Ireland, over the past few years we have seen a massive switch from vocational training to university education. Much of this was driven by class concerns that in some way a white-collar job gave more status, the promise of higher wages and a better marriage gene pool. However, we have thousands of unemployed university graduates sitting every morning at the kitchen table scanning the web for jobs while the whistling plumber fixing the drains under the sink is taking in €80 an hour!

The global economy is changing and if you have a trade or a craft then there is a very good chance that your financial future will be more secure than if you have a piece of paper from a university, saying you can do, well, nothing!

Don’t get me wrong: we should always celebrate youngsters who are competitive and want to be the best in their chosen careers, but I fear we are sleepwalking our children into a non-thinking future of white-collar job insecurity where automation will cut them down at the knees.

This is why we should shout about the success of Ireland at the World Skills games. We put forward a team of 14.

These young people dedicated the last six months to physically, mentally and technically preparing for this competition (with the assistance of Ireland Skills, employers, Solas and various third-level institutes).

Last night Ireland managed to come away with two gold medals.

The winners were Ros Wynne (Aircraft maintenance) and Alina Sile, pictured left, (restaurant service). Ros’s win means four gold medals in a row for Ireland in Aircraft Maintenance, following in the footsteps of Joe Kelly (2013), Colin Callaghan (2011) and Andy Burke (2009). Ros comes from Dublin and is working with Atlantic Aviation Group in Shannon. He has recently completed Phase 6 of the Aircraft Maintenance Apprenticeship at Dublin Institute of Technology.

As you can see, we have a pedigree in airline maintenance in Ireland. It is home to Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, and the Irish airline aviation leasing industry is among the biggest in the world.

Clearly this young man is in an area where jobs are plentiful and where his craft will be recognised and well paid. Also, and this is the key to the apprenticeship system, he is learning from the lads who won gold before him. The knowledge is being passed down, modified, used and re-used. This is the very essence of learning.

Alina Sile is a third-year student at the Shannon College of Hotel Management. Alina began her winning streak when she was awarded first place in the prestigious Ireland Skills Restaurant Service Final 2015 in March.

The full Irish team were Alina Sile (Restaurant Service), David Morgan (Carpentry), Donal Logan (Plastic Die Engineering), Jonathan Flynn (Plumbing), Daniel Murphy (Joinery), Martin Tully (Industrial Control), Ros Wynne (Aircraft Maintenance), Andrew Bushe (Automobile Technology), Shane Magee (Electrical Installations), Dean McSweeney (Construction Metal Work), Owen Murphy (Welding), Cian Mulligan (Cabinetmaking), John Murray (Plastering) and Andrea Donoghue (Beauty Therapy).

All of these vocational heroes should be recognised. We also need to discuss the greater and related issue: what are we educating thousands of youngsters to do?

When you have a trade, you are free. You have value and the value is in the product. A plumber can say the drains are fixed. A cabinetmaker can say he built a new table. A restaurateur can say, there they are, satisfied customers.

In the years ahead, I believe people who have trades or crafts will not only be more secure financially but will be sole traders, masters of their own destinies and much less concerned about foreign competition forcing their employers to leave Ireland. As fewer and fewer people are able to fix things, such as engines or machines, the person who can fix things will also be able to fix his price.

One more reason to focus more on effective vocational training is the lifestyle element to the artisan, craftsman or sole agent; it allows that person to opt out or at least deal with the world on her own terms.

While nails may be dirty and collars not quite pristine, your time is your own and, as you become better and better at your trade, your price is your own too. That can’t be a bad objective!

Raise a glass to our new world champions.

  1. colmbgarvey

    I wonder how many newspapers did the World Skills competition make in Ireland. In Alsace where I live it the Alsace competitors where all on the front page of the regional newspaper the day before the competition started and followed every day throughout. I agree with the importance of “doing” things.

  2. [...] World Skills winners show university not the only way to a brilliant career – David McWilliams [...]

  3. Mike Lucey

    I tend to blame ‘Irish Mothers’ for the way ‘trades’ are looked on by young people in the past 50 years since second level education become free and more so since 3rd level became became free(ish) in past 20 years or so.

    I have also noticed since the 90s when the personal computers became reasonably affordable and the Net expanded into educational areas many trades people have expanded their skills set via the cloud.

    I know many carpenters that are now very proficient at 3D design. These carpenters can now show clients who the patio deck will look beforehand. This was not something that they learned during their apprenticeship but they have been able to enhance their abilities via the computer.

    It doesn’t seem to be working the other way so much. Not many ‘white collar’ workers are learning manual skills. I also know many ‘white collar’ worker that would not know how to go about changing a light bulb let alone changing a Yale lock.

    I think one way to ’round’ off a person’s education would be to introduce practical skills learning at primary and secondary school levels. The results would be a better rounded individual that would be far more self reliant.

    There is also the ‘title’ of the job! How many employees have settled for a fancy sounding job title in lieu of a pay rise!

    It reminds me of an old joke where Johnny headed off to England to start a ‘white collar’ job after getting fifty quid from his mother for boat ticket.

    Like a good son he wrote every week telling his mother how he got another ‘feather in his cap’ after being promoted in the job. The week before Christmas he wrote and asked his mother to send another fifty quid to buy a ticket home for the holidays. His mother’s reply was that he should stick all the ‘feathers’ up his arse and fly home!


    • Deco

      Good joke Mike.

      Unfortunately, we have now “progessed” in terms of social mores to the point that mothers in the current era would send the money over instead of telling Johnny to cut out the BS.

      In other words, we have become less practically minded. And it has cost us very dearly.

  4. Harve

    Some very good points here David.

    World Skills competitors deserve as much recognition as those participating in high-profile sports events.

    I also agree with a lot of what you have to say on the white collar sector with degrees. The dull office life you describe is accurate in a lot of cases and added to that most employers exert pressure on graduates to work much longer hours than what they are contracted to do but without any extra pay. As you say, for plumbers and the like, they have a lot more flexibility and freedom to price according to the value they provide and to work the hours that they want, in return for getting their hands dirty.

    In the UK where I am based, Tony Blair stated a decade or so ago that he wanted 50% of school-leavers to get university degrees. What was the point of that? As I see it, universities are expensive (in the UK the fees cost £9,000 per year and then add living costs on top of that), and a lot of people spend most of their time at university ‘on the lash’ or lazing about with hangovers because some of them only have to attend 15 hours per week until they go into final year. What does that teach them? It is more likely to install lazy habits than anything. Don’t get me wrong we need graduates, but not too many. I am a graduate myself but when you take a step back and take a high level view on things, the value of a university degree is nothing like what it once was.

    Regarding trades, I agree that they should be promoted and I’m glad that you published the list of Irish entrants to the World Skills. It is also good to note that many of the trades were outside construction. Ireland has been guilty in the past of focusing too much on trades in the construction sector, but hopefully the lessons of the past few years have taught us to think twice on that one…

  5. Peter Atkinson

    I think the “dog in the street” realises that we are producing generations of kids who have perfected the art memorising facts and figures and regurgitating them at the crucial moment, ie exam time. There’s little or no passion left in learning, nor for teaching for that matter. It’s just a formula that has been cracked.Thats where academia is at these days.

    We still have the same attitude to manual labour that generations had before us. The saying “the tradesman’s entrance” still resonates loudly in Ireland. But as David pointed out, these tradesmen are keeping their head down, working directly for the people who have the cash to pay the bills, and are making little noise and a lot of money, unlike their counterparts in the white collar sector. It’s this sector that will drive real progress and prosperity in the economy.

  6. I agree with the general message in David’s article.

    However the unscripted unmentioned trades people unable to find work is also a shadow in the market too and some who are depended on outstanding monies due to them by unscrupulous contractors and householders and just cannot makes ends meet as a result .

    Some trades are more difficult than others to find work anywhere . Plumbers are usually the lucky ones while electricians are not so lucky .Plumbing carries a high risk that no one will take that chance while many will try their hand a fit a light bulb.

    Also new foreign arrivals are allowed to trade unchecked and and undocumented and be allowed to displace the incumbent Irish registered trades person.This does not happen in France or elsewhere on the continent.

    The need for masters in trade is paramount in the country . Try seeking a master taster for whiskey ? Or Tea ? They are not there and yet there is a big market to produce these drinks.

    We need a House of Masters that is regulated and transparent .

    • Deco

      Good God, no.

      The last thing you do is take something that is successful, and subsume it to a state program with the equivalent of Angela Kerins, and Patrick Neary put in charge.

      We have a massive tolerance for useless overpaid, well connected morons who wish to hold institutional or semi-institutional power, and who perform like donkeys.

      I am reminded of the phrases “lions led by donkeys” in respect of the leadership culture in Ireland.

  7. Good essay, David. Salient points. You do not want to be like me, headed for a university by being streamed in that direction, only to quit and have no skills training at all. No trade, just an itinerant labourer. I sold my strong back (we not talk of the accompanying thick head ) saved and finally took the courses and training in sales.

    Salespeople, make the world go round, helping all those who produce meet those who consume. An essential part of an economy.

    However I always wished I had a trade. As you intimate. Many a tradesperson owns and runs a substantial business enterprise. Those who follow their heart and inclination usually find a niche that pays them well.

    In the educational system is a notable lack of training in finance and basic law. Who is taught the power of compounding interest rates. Not even bank managers understand money. Who knows how the money system is operated? who knows that 97% of money in circulation is issued as an IOU, a debt charged interest.

    Who knows the basic laws of property, and contract. These are all things we need for day to day living.

    Simon black has something to say on this too. Our youth are educated in ignorance and indebted while doing so. An abysmal system of entrapment.

  8. CorkRob

    I saw how far behind the rest of Europe we had fallen in this regard while attending a Woodworking Exhibition in Germany with my brother-in-law three years ago.
    There were thousands of stalls of craftsmen and companies making tools and equipment (hand tools costing a few Euros to 5-axis routers costing €250,000+. It took us 2 days to get fully around the event and the variety of skills on show and the high quality of the equipment on sale saddened me, when compared with our manufacturing wilderness at home here in Ireland.
    We have become obsessed with making margins on on-line trades and moving money around to realise profits, rather than learning to make things that people want to buy. Since the demise of our headline manufacturing and assembling companies such as Fords and Dunlops in the 1970′s, successive governments have become focussed on white collar jobs and lately “Call-centres” for multinationals, or as the Government and IDA like to call them “Customer contact centres” – most jobs on minimum wage and targeted at immigrants with Native-level foreign language skills.
    As a University Graduate with a white collar background to director level in Sales & Marketing in all sizes of companies, I believe that Ireland today is not generating enough jobs of quality to retain or gainfully employ the scale of 3rd level graduates we are producing each year. In effect , we are producing our graduates for export, while the immigrant communities are picking up the slack in the Trades, vacated by our own tradesmen having gone to New Zealand, USA & Canada during the recession.
    All our good tradesmen have emigrated and what’s left are the chancres and bluffers. Anyone good who stayed here, has copious amounts of high paying work booked out for months to come. Personally, I can’t get a competent roofer to rectify a mess left by two chancres 3 years ago on a roof build, but I can get any amount of gougers offering similar levels of work as the two who caused the problem.
    It’s tome the government started to rekindle the manufacturing sector by training up a whole new raft of tradesmen through the Apprentice system that served us so well for so long. The success shown by the Irish representatives in Brazil last week has shown that we can compete with the best worldwide, if only our government would take off their white collar goggles and see the opportunities that could be seized by Irish trades people.

  9. Rip up the debt. Student debt as well as national debt of all kind can be replaced by having the state issue its own money , debt free and buying all the outstanding debt and simply ripping it up.

    “There is a way. The government can reduce the debt by buying it – and ripping it up. The debt can be bought either with debt-free US Notes of the sort issued during the Civil War, or with US dollars issued by the Federal Reserve in the form of “quantitative easing.”" Ellen Brown

  10. DB4545

    I think you’ve made some fair points David but I’d be careful not to paint too rosy a picture. The upside to a trade is you are your own boss but you have to pick your niche very carefully. I’m constantly astonished by the number of people who have absolutely zero practical skills or aptitude.

    A few weeks ago the next door neighbour(a solicitor) had to call out a plumber to unblock the drains. Long story short he paid out 200 notes of the folding kind cash.It’s a law with trades. The higher the so called social class the less chance you have of being paid. You’ll have cash on completion in Finglas the cheque (if you’re dumb enough to accept it) will bounce in Foxrock.If you hear the word profession of any kind only folding stuff will do because otherwise you’ll be singing for your money.

    His plumber kindly passed the problem in my direction so I had a similar problem. The Tradesman in me won’t allow another tradesman in the house unless it’s essential. I was up to my elbows in shite with a set of rods but needs must and 200 notes is better in my pocket.

    The same applies to car servicing.Oil is cheap to replace moving metal considerably less so.But you’d astonished at the number of people who hand over good money to main dealers for car servicing. The dealers then farm out the work to back street mechanics anyway and screw the customer.Practical skills have real value.

    But niche and location are important. That highly skilled aircraft mechanic you mentioned?There were 1200 people with those highly specialized skills working for SR technics in Dublin a few years ago. Well paid technical jobs.The jobs moved to Switzerland and the middle east at the stroke of a pen a few years back.Planes can be flown anywhere on the planet, houses in finglas or foxrock can’t.

    But there must be some truth in what you’re saying.My consultant was heading to Lanzarote with his kids.I smiled fondly about being up to my eyes in shite as I walked by the gold shops on the ponte vecchio in Florence today. The skills of the tradespeople of this city are very much in evidence. Every door is secure with elaborate and ornate iron work.The niche shoemaker will turn out a beautiful product that will cost you 320 Euro last a decade fits like a glove and is a work of art.Pick your niche carefully.

    • DB4545
      Canada’s niche has been as a hewer of wood etc and the oil price drop has thrown Alberta under a bus Put up a road block to a balance budget for the Canadian government.


      Oil-sands producers struggle: The WSJ reported that Canada’s high-cost oil-sands producers are struggling and even the most efficient drillers are losing money on every barrel they produce at current prices. A TD Securities report said more than half of current oil-sands production can’t break even unless WTI crude prices rise above $44.
      Even losing $6/barrel, top oil sands project unlikely to close: Reuters noted that Canada’s largest synthetic crude project is not likely to shut down operations even as it is losing about $6 for every barrel it produces. Syncrude Canada Ltd has a break-even production costs of $43.46/barrel. That is around $6 higher than the current outright price for synthetic crude, which settled yesterday at $37.37/barrel.

    • Deco

      If I remember correctly there was a similar incident when we had that drunken fool from Donegal as responsible minister, and the jobs went to Germany.

      Again – lions placed under an authority complex that is led by donkeys.

      About the same time, the Irish media were attacking Michael O’Leary because his direct, non-nonsense approach was meeting their disapproval in terms of how to conduct business in Ireland. [ in other words there are sacred cows that must be respected].

  11. Adelaide

    ‘Employment’ is a work of fiction of the Political Money System.

    When one cares to examine the nature of the private FIAT-Banking money in one’s wallet, you will ultimately arrive at the conclusion that ‘jobs’, like your ‘money’, are a systemic fabrication of our dysfunctional monetary model that serves no purpose but the singular purpose of the Money Creators.

    Remember, you don’t earn money, you earn the banker’s private money, it’s for the sake of having access to their hocus-pocus confetti money that you waste your life working in an unnecessary phony ‘job’ that only exists for the requirement of the Political Money System.

    Were David ever to examine the Political Money System as comprehensively as E.C.Riegel did back in the 40′s the insight is unavoidable that when the issuance of money is finally democratised from the private hands of bankers to the public domain, 90% of employment would be revealed for what is, pure fiction.

    Like David, 99% of the population believe ‘jobs’, beyond earning a wage, are a good thing in so many other ways. This is the unthinking spouting of the ‘quack-quack’ propogandised mind one sees in Orwell’s 1984. Only fools, horses and ducks work in the Political Money System.

    • Yes Adelaide,

      Let us have a good discussion of the money system employed to have all as economic serfs. So far, David has resisted. He just can’t seem to get his mind around to examine the Ponzi scheme that requires ever increasing numbers of people to borrow in order to provide an ever expanding money supply which automatically expands the debt, which means ever increasing amounts of interest must be paid which eventually suffocated the economy which is being strangled by the debt anyway.

      We are rapidly reaching the limit of debt that can be carried by people, The limit of debt that can be raised by the banks to provide assets used as reserves to make loans to people who no longer qualify.

      Bonds run into the trillions, unredeemable by municipalities, utilities, states and countries.

      It is a strange case of cognitive dissonance on the biggest scam ever perpetrated on mankind. It is time to reveal to the people this simple fact and provide a remedy that give freedom and liberty.

      Sorry to run on but it needs a discussion.

      • Adelaide

        To be honest David would be wasting his time covering the Money System to his readers, the public wall of wilful ignorance is too bloated, at this stage only the inevitable collapse of the FIAT currencies will jolt the people to examine and re-imagine the Money System.

        • The PTB will have an alternative ready when this collapses. The next iteration will be more of the same presented as a salvation to a crisis.

          not one in 100,000 has any idea that the fiat money is debt based at interest. Willful ignorance is not the problem but ignorance is and disbelief that it could be so.

          Education is key to learning what the problem is before anything will be done to change it. Although I do feel that I am just pissing in the wind on the topic.

  12. Adelaide

    The public’s brainwashed obsession which is daily cheer-leaded on by the gallery of the equally monetary-model ignoramuses with their need to ‘get a job’ manifests itself in the most insulting forms, I see the government has revealed that it has to date hired 320 Jobbridge interns. How many of these 320 interns were kept on for a paid position? Zero.
    Pure Quackery.

    • Deco

      Were those interns paid amounts anywhere close to what Frank Flannery got for being an utterly useless director of Rehab, or what Ryan Tubridy gets for being another useless BS artist, on the state propaganda quango (though he was from an important political family) ?

      Eh no.

      And unlike Flannery and Tubridy, the interns probably did real work.

  13. Original-Ed


    I don’t know what’s significance of mentioning Ryanair in your piece.
    Michael tried establish a maintenance facility here, but Bertie and Aer Lingus put a stop to it and he moved it to Scotland. Something like a thousand of skilled jobs were lost in the process.As always is the case in Ireland – it’s the singer and not the song that matters most.

  14. Deco

    By the way – Irish Third Level is supremely over-rated. The universities themselves are slipping down the rankings. They are increasingly mismanaged, and are being used as a source of safe jobs for political appointees.

    The entire state patronage system is killing performance in Ireland. We are in the last 12 months of a government, and there will be failed local authority councillors stuffed onto the state and institutional employment area.


    Similar to many of you, I spent 5 YRS @ secondary school.


    Similar to many of you, I spent 5 YRS @ secondary school. During that time, no employer came to the school to offer career advice or work experience. The full time school career’s officer spent his days playing golf!
    During the 80′s, 60 % of DIT grads emigrated; do Irish employers provide apprenticeships or are they continually trying to woe experienced Irish and foreign workers from abroad.
    The latter drives housing costs through the roof. Paid Starter positions are rarely advertised.

  17. DB4545


    I trained or served my time as an electrician under the old ANCO system which was very fair and thorough and produced good generalist tradespeople. Because we completed both State exams and British City & Guilds exams my papers were accepted anywhere I worked including Australia,Germany and the US.

    You mentioned interns which is both a farce and a crime against the people working as “interns”.I started my apprenticeship at the height of the 80′s recession and was always paid the correct wage for the job by my employer. My employer was a small operator under the usual pressures of the times but he was honest and fair with his employees.

    When I see the scams with employers today I feel we’ve moved back to the 1900′s. Forget about FAS etc. they’re pure scams to fix up cronies.

  18. DannyG

    Some good points David, but I think the apprenticeships you mentioned in the article are of high quality and probably represent 0.05% of the total apprenticeships in Ireland. Regular apprenticeships are of extreme poor quality and are used by Irish employers as cheap labour. Organisations such as FAS were only interested in the numbers and cared little about the training.
    It always makes me laugh, guys preaching about a world they don’t understand from behind a comfortable, dry warm desk. I also seriously doubt you’d recommend an apprenticeship to a young family member of your own if you knew the bullying and general mistreatment of apprentices in Ireland by their seniors and employers. I did an apprenticeship in 2000 and a Uni degree in 2008. My work satisfaction and family lifestyle now are light years ahead of my 8 years scouring the Global looking for work on sites. The CAO guys from my degree also have the same job satisfaction and lifestyle without having had to go through the hardship of an apprenticeship. I believe the problem starts with the CAO and Irish society using “the trade” as a dumping ground for anyone who isn’t “clever enough” the go to college. There is also the issue of hitting a technical ceiling very quickly in your career doing a general trade and employers rarely look to up skill the tradespeople they have, it’s easier just to get a University Graduate.
    The trainers and Lectures in Irish trades are brilliant but there needs to be a serious rethink in our approach and attitude before I’d ever recommend a trade over a degree to a friend/family member.

  19. DB4545


    I have to agree with most of what you’ve said.It’s some years since I completed my apprenticeship and I had a decent employer. However I finally went back and completed my degree and it does move you up the food chain..But I remember horror stories in college of apprentices being used as cheap labour on jobs unrelated to their trade. And there’s the old adage regarding engineering degrees. If you have an engineering degree you get to run the mine, with a business degree you get to own the mine.

    • DannyG


      Brilliant analogy and very true.
      One thing I have to admire about the Irish education system was the support mechanisms in place and routes available for apprentices like myself to pursue an engineering degree. Having listened to some of my UK and US colleagues talk about their 20 year payback student loans from tuition fees, I realise how lucky I was not to have massive debts leaving Uni.

      Going back to the topic, I do think David is right in highlighting the gap between what employers need and what the education system churns out. I don’t regret any of my time working at a trade but I don’t miss it either, not because it was tough but because of how little value you felt you had and how that made you feel at the end of a hard week.

      • DB4545


        And there you’ve hit the nail on the head.Earning a decent living and feeling valued and having dignity while you do it. That applies across all spectrums of abilities from “lab rats” with PhD’s working on the next superdrug to binmen(and it is usually men).

        I have a facination with brands and why people buy into them. They’re around since crafts began. I’m in Florence and it’s a major showcase for fashion and design. I’m looking at a Norwegian clothing brand retailing chinos for 140 and winter jackets for 400.Made in China and landing on the shelf for 25 and 70 by my reckoning.The rest is marketin

        • DB4545

          The rest is marketing distribution and the margin.The material costs 10 and I’d be pleasantly surprised if the Chinese seamstress was getting 2 euro a garment.I reckon the factory owner probably makes 5 Euro an item net.

          Someone is making an incredible amount of money and yet the consumer will buy into the brand at that price.Where’s the value for the consumer or the seamstress at either end of that supply chain?

          • DannyG


            I’ve never had an opinion on that type of stuff but thinking about it now as you mentioned it, I think if someone is clever enough to tap into a customers desires and those customers are willing to pay for that product then why shouldn’t the clever person reap the rewards. Then there is the whole question of corporations using ethical operating and trading practices. Hollister clothing company springs to mind when you mentioned marketing. Very basic clothing but teenagers queue up around the block just to get into the shop because when you get in everyone that works there are models and there is a live feed on a giant screen to some surfing spot in California on the wall, I think whoever thought of that is a genius and the risks taken were by the sales and marketing team not the guys making the products.
            This leads back to the engineering vs business degree. I’m an engineer and I work with a Renewable energy business development team. The sales/marketing guys are paid much more than the engineers and I can understand why. The Sales guys careers live or die by meeting their targets and the entire business including the engineers salaries rely on them bringing the money into the business. I’m not saying its right or wrong but this is just the reality of survival. However this is not the dynamic in every country, Australian industries I found have the reverse mentality towards its engineers.

  20. “Unless the world wakes up and realizes that total evil has the reins in the West, humanity has no future.”Paul Craig Roberts

    Insouciance Rules The West — Paul Craig Robert

    • McCawber

      It says somewhere in the bible (I’m sure or I think) that we’re doomed.
      You’re about 2000 years or more too late.
      It’s really only a matter of time.
      If you have any useful suggestions on how to either avoid that doom or at least mitigate its’ affects I can assure you that you will have my undivided attention and probably many others as well.

      • Yes , it has been stated by many people already.

        Not much I can do to stop more military actions by us against alien countries and cultures. We are ruled by the military industrial complex who are controlled by the producers of our money system.

        That is why the information about our money system is so important. Somewhere in the bible we were warned the “money is the root of all evil”. Now I understand why, as it was never adequately explained to me why it was so. It was just preached as a fact.

        Usury is a sin was also preached but not explained. It appears that it means the charging of interest. Period.

        So 2, 4, 6,000 years ago things were just the same as now. Similar circumstances, different actors.

        Today, the ability to produce unlimited amounts of money at will, funds the ability to wage war on such a scale. The purveyors of the money get to use it for free while issuing it to everyone else as a loan. The money then spreads throughout the economy as a debt with interest charged. Eventually The debt overwhelms the peoples ability to service the repayment and accumulating interest. We are at that stage. Paul Craig Roberts lays it out so I do not need to again.

        One a macro level we must continue to teach others what we have learned as only then can it be halted by concerted political action, although as the Greeks see it may require a revolution as government actions turn on a dime. Promises are made to be broken by every party up for election.

        In the meantime protect yourself. Have no debt. Own solid assets, remove all savings from the banking system as it is subject to seizure by bailin. (see Greece, Cyprus). Privatise your pension if you can as pension funds are underfunded and bond values and the stock markets values will collapse. Have a source or food, shelter and water. Know your neighbours, and cooperate. Buy gold and especially silver as insurance to maintain your purchasing power as all fiat paper currencies are being printed to oblivion as we watch. The time to do so at such devalued and cheap prices is now.

    • McCawber

      Before I read your referenced article.
      I don’t believe in gold or silver anymore than I believe in the CBs. And I suspect you have your doubts too, given your references to self sufficiency and growing your own.
      The world economy is based on credit which is based on the belief that most people will pay their debts.
      So the key to all of this and you have said it many times is debt or more accurately controlling the amount of debt that is allowed in the system.
      I think we are long past the Gold age.
      In practical terms.
      It might be wiser to invest money in tinned food, hoard it and wait. I wouldn’t sell my tins of food for Gold BTW.
      Which then begs the question what would I sell them for?

  21. DOW dives 1000 in 3 days.{“range”:”5d”,”allowChartStacking”:true}

  22. Gold up 70 in two weeks

    Oil down 20% in 30 days.Now 40.3

    What recovery was mentioned a month back?

  23. Greece sold 14 of its regional airports to a private German company for the next 40 years for $1.34 billion. EuroNews 2015 Aug 18

  24. Major US aquifers in the Midwest and in California are tainted by nitrates, a contaminant from chemical fertilizers and animal waste. Nitrates oxidize natural uranium in the soil, making it soluble in groundwater. These aquifers, which provide water to one sixth of US cropland, now have up to 180 times the safe level of uranium, and this is being delivered to the nation’s food supply. The High Plains aquifer gives water to eight states, from South Dakota to Texas. The Central Valley, in its turn, provides California’s most fertile agricultural regions. RT 2015 Aug 17 (Story) (Cached)

    Buy local , organic.

    • McCawber

      Only one flaw in that idea. How do you know the water they used on their organics is contaminant free.

      • Here, one is not allowed to advertise organic unless the operation is certified “organic”. It is government sponsored but the inspectors are trained in the organic industry and so are oriented to being organic in fact rather than as a marketing ploy.

        Buying local allows investigation of the operation and farm from which the product is produced and bought from. This is true whether it is farm gate or the local store.

        Others advertise organic practises where they practice organic habits but are not certified. Again , if they are local one can make the requisite enquiries.


    Dominic Frisby would be a great addition to Kilkenomics

  26. McCawber

    Non so much a conspiracy theory but………..
    There is always a sub plot to this sort of stuff.
    It’s a sort of dumbing down. When we can’t do it right let’s move the goalposts or in a lot of cases lower the crossbar.
    It’s aim in part is to produce cheaper labour and to some extent undermine the established order of degrees, masters etc.
    We have all heard Sir Alan Sugar at it on his “Your Fired” podium.
    He’d never hire a “degreed” person if he could avoid it. The chip on his shoulder is big I often wonder how he manages to stand up straight.
    (No doubt tho he hires plenty of specialists to ensure his tax bill is kept to a minimum)
    That’s just a flavour. There is a much bigger agenda and a lot more to this sort of stuff.
    Sorry David for throwing cold water on the great achievement by our two gold medalists.

  27. McCawber

    Some more cold water.
    I was watching a programme recently about a fully automated brick (or block) laying prototype. This thing was the real deal.
    It didn’t just lay bricks/blocks, it cut or adjusted the size of said bricks/blocks as required.
    It’s the future and it ain’t too far away – Machines will do everything.
    It could finish a house (the brick/block laying part of it) fifteen times faster that a brickie. It wasn’t cheap but in Ireland the builders would bite your hand off for one cos the brickies union, in particular, is extremely militant and construction companies put a lot of effort into minimising their part in the construction process.

    • StephenKenny

      Machines can make stuff, and do stuff, but people are mercurial. They desire scarcity and the impression of exclusivity, at the same time as wanting to ‘belong’ to a group – think of handbag brands, or shoes, of football shirts. The utility haven’t changed in 100 years, but they will still go out of their way to hunt down this and that, and decide which brand they wish to belong to.

      Once the machines do the work, I can see this just getting ever more and more extreme. With the consumer culture becoming ever more intense. In the past, buying a new kitchen was an expensive affair, but when machine can build and install it in an hour, for a few hundred bucks, then the rate of change and range of change will just get ever more extreme.

      In terms of what people will do for a living, they will probably desire services which can by definition only be provided by people. After all, everything else will be easy, cheap, and quick. If you have trouble and thinking of the kinds of things that this might be, just remember that there is a massive industry in handbags and shirts.

      • McCawber

        You will be able to print your own, self designed handbag with your own 3D printer.
        You will be able to be as mercurial as you are able to be. And because you designed then it’ll be amazing.
        As an aside, UBER is a forerunner of the 5th Industrial Revolution. It’s a form of bartering.

        • StephenKenny

          Those who want creative or new at called ‘early adopteres’,man dad a small group indeed. The vast bulk of the population want Nike or Prada – they want to be exclusive and one of a group EU admire. They want granit counter tops, which are spectacularly pointless and expensive, but an established and understood symbol. They will join the group of ‘people wh have granit countertops’, so why they show friend around their kitchen, they will all know.

          That machines remove th value of utility, but of little else. The machines will have coyright and patent restrictions built in, so you can’t make a copy of a Prada or Nike shoe, or even of the logo.

          The idea that the majority will become individual in the thinking and appreciation is optimistic. It seems to me that that chance vanished with the transformation of the rebellious, outward looking, education system of 30 years ago, into the narrow, regimented, inward looking, training system of today.

          • StephenKenny

            ‘are called ‘early adopters’ and are a small group indeed’

          • McCawber

            Your 3D printer will produce a Nike etc bag whatever in exact replica and maybe even deliberate flaws if you want to give it that added bit of authenticy.
            The only limits will be your imagination.
            Not even Nike will be able to tell the difference, if that is what you desire.
            Come to think of it. Tony Brogan is right about QE. Soon it will be possible to print your own money and nobody will be able to tell the difference.

        • Mr.McCawber :)

          Using a 3D printer for currency is of course counterfeiting. QE is not strictly counterfeiting as it is a legal process authorized by the state and the central banks.

          QE uses electronic production of currency and issues it as a loan into the system. Therefore QE adds to the debt load and so is counter productive. In fact the more QE issued (that is the more money added as credit, or issued as a debt) the more destructive it is to the economy.

          QE money is also inflating the money supply and adding to the economic distortion.

          3D produced money has the feature that it is NOT issued as a LOAN and is not a DEBT. So think about that. This counterfeit money is less harmful to the economy than the state sanctioned fiat money.
          BUT 3D money is inflationary and if issued in large enough amounts will also destroy trust in the money system.

          So what money CAN NOT be produced by 3D printers. You tell me, because I know nothing about 3D printing.
          But I will wager it will not produce gold or silver coin. I am not sure if Bitcoin can be fiddled with electronically.

          That brings me back to real money and the use of silver and gold as the backing for money. Saying it will never return as money is opinion. How do you know this? Why is just about every nation on earth accumulating the same? Why are Germans the biggest acquisitors in Europe? Perhaps they still remember the boom 1920′s and the 1930′s bust. Perhaps they remember the results of that bust and do not want to go there again. They show wisdom!! Do you have answers for the questions posed?

          • McCawber

            Wisdom is McCawber (The original).
            We wouldn’t need gold or silver backed anything if governments/people lived within their means.

  28. “Nevertheless, Roosevelt did not see himself as being in charge. In The Age of Acquiescence (2015), Steve Fraser quotes President Roosevelt telling Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau at the end of 1934 that “the people I have called the ‘money changers in the Temple’ are still in absolute control. It will take many years and possibly several revolutions to eliminate them.”— Quoted by Craig Paul Roberts

    • Eight decades later as Nomi Prins has made clear in All The Presidents’ Bankers (2014), the money changers are still in control. Nothing less than fire and the sword can dislodge them. PCR

  29. New employees will have to be corrupted and totally corruptible if they want to progress up the corporate ladder.

    • McCawber

      Are you saying that in order to progress up the corporate ladder one must be comfortable with ambiguity.

      • No, they have to be comfortable with lying, misrepresentation, and actions that deceive themselves as well as corporate investors. The only way forward for the majority is through graft, crony corporatism, and the paying off of politicians.

        There are exceptions , of course, but they too are affected because there is in effect a complete destruction of market mechanisms for price discovery, and thus all supply and demand theories go out the window. Misallocation of resources is rampant and that includes the education system where graduates will find a gloriously painted future is a lie painted on an ethereal tapestry.

        In addition to corporate lies is government malfeasance of among other things. currency manipulation, covert support of stock markets and the suppression of gold and silver prices.

        All this starts with the maintenance of a completely corrupted money system that the banksters insinuated on to the state(s) which they now control. Control of the money system is control of the world.

        Here is a speech giving in Germany by Chris Powell of GATA who spells a lot of this out. It is well worth the read to gain an understanding and has many references that can be followed and explored to give answers to your questions.

        “Of course money is power and infinite money is infinite power.” Chris Powell.

        • I might have added, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

          Therefore those who control the money supply are totally corrupted and, additionally, contaminate all who use their money!!

  30. DB4545


    I wouldn’t underplay for a moment the importance of selling as a real skill and vital to a business.If you can’t sell yourself(as competent) or your service or product you’re unemployable.If you’re the investor and you’ve risked your assets you reap the rewards, that’s capitalism full stop.

    What I would say is that if a product lands on EU shelves for 25 Euro and retails for 140 it shows serious potential for disruption.

  31. DB4545


    There were plenty of Chinese and Indian mercantile businessmen about buying up 30k hublot and rolex watches with the proceeds of their enterprise. That suggests room for enterprising disruptive craftspeople in the rag and othet trades.

    On a more local level I’m a resolute Dub and wouldn’t know one end of a cow from another.Maybe a farmer can answer this question? Why would you turn a high quality milk product into a low value commodity like baby formula for the Chinese market when a scoop of gelato retails for 2.50 a pop? I know the milk quota is finished but you don’t turn lemonade back into lemons.It’s like turning diamonds back in coal what the f**k is the farming community thinking?

    In relation to crafts and engineering I’ve mentioned this before but it needs to be spelled out again. We can soak up a huge amount of unemployment if we develop high value light engineering in the defence industries. Get off the high horse about “neutrality” and attack those industries like we’ve done with medical devices and pharma and we can reap the rewards.

    Read the news, the world is a dangerous place and always will be. The Swiss, Swedes , Italians and Belgians make a nice living from that little niche.Look what Gaston Glock(with practically zero history in firearm manufacturing)has done in Austria.Time for a few Paddies to carry out a bit of disruption in that niche.

  32. [...] World Skills winners show university not … – Click on David’s name to get back to the home page at any time. These icons link to the main sections of the site, and you’ll find them in the same … [...]

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