This month the perpetually renascent British firm announced an important educational partnership with machine tool supplier Engineering Technology Group (ETG) to create a technical academy for young engineers at Norton’s Castle Donington HQ.
The facility, to be run in partnership with an Ofsted rated educational deliverer, is (surprise!) an industry-led initiative aimed at bridging the well known engineering skills gap the UK has been suffering since just after the invention of the printing press.
Industry trade mag Production Engineering Solutions (sample article: “Clamp With Confidence”) reported ETG Director of Engineering Martin Doyle giving the Government a bit of a characteristically blunt engineer-style drubbing on the day:
…to be honest, quite frankly they don’t seem to live in the real world…the current education platform is broken and not relevant to the world we operate in.
I enjoyed that. But as fun as it must be to make politicians seem a species beyond help, Norton’s CEO Stuart Garner seems to have avoided making similarly strident criticisms in front of the press – but it’s not hard to see why he might have bitten his tongue a bit.
If you check out the Department for International Trade’s UK Export Finance Department records for this year alone, you’ll find Norton have scored a series of helpful Government-backed guarantees of export working capital to the tune of £1.6 million for Australia, £4.8 million for the US, £1.6 million for the United Arab Emirates and £5.6 million for Italy.
Tidy sums – and with Norton having just cleverly sold the intellectual property rights for their Euro 4 compliant 650 twin to Chinese manufacturer Zongshen (with the profits of that 20 year agreement all funneling back in to Norton’s UK activities) it’s actually looking like small volume high-end bike design and manufacture based in Britain might actually be sustainable.
And who’d have thought that a few years ago?