Still in first gear

How patronising of Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking in Germany, to say that joining “British ingenuity with German engineering” will put our two countries at the forefront of a new industrial revolution (your report, 10 March).

Is he implying that the Brits are intellectual geniuses while their German counterparts are mere rude mechanicals (a common view of engineers in this country)?

If German engineering is so good perhaps that is down to their own ingenuity. Has Cameron never heard of “Vorsprung durch Technik”? In Germany the qualification “Dipl.-Ing” is highly regarded and engineers enjoy parity of esteem with other professionals such as doctors and lawyers.

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Also, the Germans have kept up a centuries-long tradition of apprenticeships leading to qualification as a Meister or master tradesman.

In the UK, apprenticeships were so devalued in the 1980s that by 1990 they took up only two-thirds of 1 per cent of total employment. A belated attempt is now being made to redress the balance in the good old British tradition of reinventing the wheel every few decades.

Harry D Watson

Braehead Grove

Edinburgh