Lord Alan Sugar (credit BBC/Talkback Thames)

Lord Sugar criticised for 'engineers in business' comment

Engineers have reacted angrily to Lord Sugar's comments suggesting that engineers perform poorly in business.

The business mogul has come under fire after dismissing contestant Glenn Ward, a trained design engineer, in the latest episode of the reality show.

He explained his decision to fire 28-year-old Ward by claiming "I've never come across an engineer that can turn his hand to business".

Engineers and other critics have responded by pointing to pioneering engineers-turned-businessmen including Brunel, Bill Gates, Karl Benz and Sir James Dyson - the latter being worth £1.45bn compared to Lord Sugar's £770m according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

"Lord Sugar clearly doesn't get out enough to meet the wide variety of successful engineering businessmen," said Alan Watts, a Vice President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

"Engineers and technologists in most years form around 15 per cent of FTSE 100 companies’ directors.

"Sir James Dyson, Sir John Rose (Rolls Royce) and Sir Robin Saxby (Arm) are just a few of the better known engineers and designers who can 'turn their hands to business' and do it very well."

"Many of the hi-tech start-ups that we have in the UK today are founded by engineers who are able to both generate innovative new ideas and manage the business from securing venture funding through to taking the company to IPO," said Professor William Webb, another Vice President of the IET. 

"There have been a significant number of engineers who have created substantial wealth for their companies and the country as well as delivering innovative new ideas that benefit all. 

"At a time when the UK is in need of more real engineering rather than financial engineering, everything possible should be done to encourage more engineers to develop their managerial skills so we can build upon the UK’s proud legacy of engineering leadership."

Twitter users also took to the social networking site to express their dismay.

"Ludicrous comment from Sugar. And the irony of MS (run by an engineer) dominating the PC market instead of Amstrad in the UK isnt lost on me," tweeted user 'JNathan'.

"Steve Jobs might disagree with Lord Sugar on the engineer not being good at business thing. And me. #bbcapprentice," added 'chriswgough'.

"I've never met an engineer who can turn his hand to business" was Dyson's keynote at Richer Than Sugar Conf. '09 #apprentice," joked 'railtonrailton'.

Watts added: “I realise Lord Sugar's comment was meant to be somewhat tongue in cheek and certainly makes good television."

“However in the real world engineers do turn their hands to business and do it rather well in fact.”

Lord Sugar was not immediately available to comment.

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