I learned 6502 and 680x0 at home, despite mainly using MS-DOS at work. That was because I was interested in technology for its own sake, and I made the time to study it. At the time, I could see it was worth my while, because I could see where technology was going (compared to my GCSE mathematics teacher, Mr. Shrubbs, bless him - who told me "Computers are just a passing fad.")
Are you really trying to say that trying out a Ubuntu CD at home is beyond the wit of Britain's yoof? That is what you're implying: That, somehow, if they're not gradually force-fed it at work or school, the poor dears will never ever learn it.
What the UK needs to do is show engineers that they are valued, and their jobs will not be shipped to India or China at the soonest possible opportunity. The next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates may well be in Britain, just like Jonathan Ive was, but as soon as they realise what a shithole the UK is in comparison to the rest of the world, they'll emigrate and pay their taxes to another government.
The problem with engineers is that they tend to be rather clever people, and clever people usually don't opt to live in third world countries if there is a better alternative. If the UK wants to attract the best and brightest, it needs to work on making itself a country that decent people WANT to live in. It's really that simple.
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