Like most people, last month I was glued to the Olympic coverage and blown away by the success of Team GB and our record gold haul, especially when you consider that in 2004 we only won nine golds.
In 2008 we more than doubled that tally to 19 and we all know the fantastic result this year.
For those of us watching the sports and the interviews afterwards, one inescapable conclusion is that every medal, whatever colour, every personal best and every record was the result of at least four years’ of effort, training, time, dedication and, not least, huge amounts of lottery funding.
Without taking away from the individual achievements of the athletes, much of the improvement has been caused by the move in attitude away from the British plucky amateur attitude to a more scientific and professional approach, with properly funded facilities and support systems.
Unfortunately, it took us decades of plucky losers to learn the lesson that nothing can be improved without the proper investment of resources.
Bank of England governor Mervyn King contrasted the poor performance of the British economy with that of the British athletes, but the only way the economy can achieve full fitness is with the injection of resources in the right place; resources that have to come from banks, government and the private sector.
The part of the private sector that is not going out of business is hanging on to its cash until it sees what is happening to the economy. Also, what little cash it has in its pockets is not being supplemented by the banks, which seem as unwilling to lend as they were a year ago. All the ‘quantitative easing’ done by the Bank of England seems to have been absorbed by the banking system like a sponge.
The government decided it had to slash spending to get the UK’s deficit down, which may or may not have been the right policy; I’m not going to get into that political argument. However, I do know as a businessman that the effect has been damaging on much of the private sector, either directly or indirectly.
In the air conditioning sector, a shrinking public sector in some areas of the country means unemployment is resulting in less custom for small retail outlets and other businesses that are bread and butter of contractors. There are also fewer school, hospital and similar projects that had been keeping some installers’ heads above water.
While training in our industry has improved over recent decades, all that good work could be undone if no-one can afford to employ and nurture new talent.
The government has to take a lead and, directly or indirectly, ensure there is adequate investment in our economy, so that it can enjoy the success our athletes achieved.
Julian Brunnock is sales and marketing director of FG Eurofred, the face of Fujitsu in the UK. Email Julian at firstname.lastname@example.org