Well dear readers, I have just watched William Hague’s first major speech as FCO Minister:
Now, of course, as I have previously posted, the FCO is going to get smacked with cuts of 25% over the next 5 years……which is a bad thing when it is an ideal time to expand influence due to the economic crisis and Baroness Ashton’s soon to be functional empire……amongst other considerations.
So how about evalutating the UK human capital in far flung lands?
We will use me as an example, as I know a little about me, although I am in no way extraordinary.
I live in a major city with no UK formal or even semi-formal represenation. This is a country that is going through some major changes in policy, law and direction. One which sits between the EU and Russia.
I live in one of the major commercial and logistical hubs of that nation. The only quasi-official British recognised presence here comes from 3 Ukrainian babooshkas running the library at the British Council and a few transient teachers they may employ who can deliver a few words in English as their native tongue. (OK a slight exageration….but not much…..the strip club on Ekaterinaskaya has a higher profile and bigger impact on Odessa society – no joke!)
I have to say, and no disrespect is meant, that those babooshkas are in no way capable of promoting “Britishness” compared to me or any other British national permanently here for that matter.
I am degree educated in business and also a qualified civil engineer. I am IOSH, a Radiation Protection Supervisor from my days at Sellafield, I still own UK companies that turn over £ millions each year and have run and owned them for almost a decade……although granted I can in no way be classed as “hands on” for the past few years. There is not much I don’t know and haven’t experienced myself about UK business.
I also hold numerous seemingly useless qualifications in construction site safety, a Member of the Professional Recruitment Association of the UK, have written more ISO, health & safety, and environmental documents than I care to count. I know IIP inside and out. I am still on the register to train and examin health and safety for the HVCA for CSCS Card assessment and issuance.
Prior to the Private Sector I was employed by Her Maj. I am still subject to the Official Secrets Act. I was Positively Vetted when I worked for Her Maj. I have no criminal record and not even a driving conviction.
During my time in Moscow and latterly in Ukraine, I have established a network of people of influence who still sit in the Duma and RADA respectively, notwithstanding knowing anyone of note in Odessa where I live.
My Russian language skills are adequate enough to easily survive.
I do not work (unless something comes along that interests me). I am still under 50 years old. I am here legally and have permanent residency in Ukraine. I am 100% legal here and always have been.
I have as much time as is necessary to give to Mr Hague to promote British influence in my city as is warranted. Likewise, I have as much time to give to Mr Yanukovych (or whoever will be in charge at any given point) to promote Ukraine in the UK where I still have a strong business network of connections.
My social skills have managed to get me through a few garden parties with Her Maj in the past without incident, let alone Consular functions and Odessa Oblast functions in the past.
I don’t recall commiting any faux pas when a guest at the signing of the Black Sea Agreement between Ukraine and Greece for example…….yes, I too question why I was invited.
I am not alone in being such an average but dependable soul from the British Isles now permanently settled in foreign lands, with acceptible backgrounds and with time on their hands. I know this is so, as I am not special or unique as I have previously stated.
I am, as the expression goes, “cheap as chips” as an FCO/NGO asset because I am already here, legally here, established here and have time and energy to give to Mr Hague and/or Ukraine for decades to come if required.
Human capital will become the buzzword for future investment and yet so, so much of it is completely wasted or overlooked.
If Mr Hague’s goal is to expand UK influence across the globe as he states, whilst Mr Osborne is swinging his bugetary axe, would it not be at least prudent to look at what potential assets there are and attempt to employ them a little more beneficially? The is a lot of useful ”low hanging fruit” out there in the shape of expatriated UK nationals and we are all “ambassadors” for the UK in the eyes of the locals after all.