Recent news indicates that managers now outnumber manual workers across French industry. Over 21 per cent of the working population are classified as managers, as opposed to 19 per cent who are manual workers. The same trend is apparent in Britain.
Much of this shift in work is because of mechanisation and automation. Factories, mines and farms employ far fewer people but use more robots and machines now, often delivering vastly greater output. And economies like Britain’s have moved away from heavy industry towards services.
But the advance of the administrative state is remorseless in all spheres. During 40 years working in and owning companies across many sectors, I have seen a never ending rise of bureaucracy despite the benefits of computerisation. So often it feels as if the actual operations of the business – making and selling goods for customers – are servants of the head office (and the state). Divisions such as HR, IT, finance, legal, training, marketing and so forth have proliferated, while core activities like production, engineering and research and development have too often withered.
What makes it so amusing is that this comes from Luke Johnson. Sure, it’s true and all that. But he’d have saved himself however many tens of million it is if he’d just employed the one competent – or perhaps honest – finance bod before Patisserie Valerie went down the tubes.