back to article Skills crisis? Not for long: More and more UK kids gain STEM quals

More youngsters are taking A-Level exams in science and technology subjects this years than their peers five years ago, with an increase in tech subjects seen as an encouraging sign that the so-called skills shortage may become less acute in coming years. A-Level results released on Thursday revealed a 29.1 percentage point …

  1. Brenda McViking
    Thumb Up


    I'm a STEM ambassador and have been for several years so it's good to see the initiative actually starting to bear fruit - and what better way than to get those involved in the hard-end of STEM to inspire kids and get time off work to attend schools.

    It's actually quite fun to explain a jet engine to kids and for them to actually get it. Or see their faces when they realise females can be engineers too, not just the guys.

    1. Dr Who

      Re: Good.

      This is great news indeed for the kids and for the country.

      I have a good female friend with a senior tech position who also does the STEM ambassador stuff. A very worthy and admirable thing to lend your time to!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Good.

        It said there had been a 20-30% increase, it didn't say what percentage overall were taking them.

        It's easy to have a big increase in a small baseline

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good.

      I would advise them to go into politics. Boris earns 250K from the telegraph, just because of who he is.

      The average PPE, Lawyer, History grad or economist would be absolutely destroyed in any argument with a physicist who worked out how to deal with them.

      An example would be the Hawker Harrier - designed and built by people with brains and ability, sold for scrap money by people without them.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Good.

        And yet PPEs, lawyers, and economists often learn a lot more than physicists do.

        The problem is that STEM doesn't teach you anything about politics.

        Anyone who thinks facts or evidence can sway an argument on their own is dead meat against a PPE, lawyer, economist, or the worst kind of journalist.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good.

        "Boris earns 250K from the telegraph, just because of who he is."

        Johnson is a right wing politician and the £250k for a newspaper column is a legal near-bribe to consider favourably the desires of the owners of the Telegraph. It has worked the other way as well, with governments in the past bribing journalists to support their point of view. That isn't exactly a general argument for going into politics. There are only a few thousand politicians who really make a living from politics. Now look at the number of Oxford PPE graduates, subtract the ones who have a stinking rich daddy, and find out how many of the others are well off.

        Outside London most solicitors don't make a lot of money. Barrister earnings are high on average partly because most of the lower paid representation work is done by solicitors.

        I very strongly suspect that if you look at median earnings STEM graduates do better than arts and humanities graduates (or footballers.) Averages are misleading in a fields where some people are paid huge amounts.

        1. phil dude

          Re: Good.

          An average means nothing without knowing the variance.


    3. Charles Manning

      Re: Good.

      But is it enough?

      In the 1980s when I got into computing many of the programmers were basically filing clerks who showed some gumption and were then sent on a 3 month COBOL programming course.

      When I left University in 1983, a new grad would emerge with a large % of computing knowledge in their head.

      The programmers from the 1980s are mostly going to be retiring before 2025. As many of my generation start to pop their clogs early, or head to management, or whatever,... the skill reservoir is depleting.

      Since then, complexity has increased immensely. The level of skill you need to be productive has increased dramatically. Nett result is that we get effectively less skilled all the time.

      Now a degree is just enough to get you a foot on the bottom rung of the ladder. It takes many years to get to proficiency.

      Will the sprogs of today be able to spin up before the older generation give up?

      1. geekguy

        Re: Good.

        Only an element of this is true. Yes computing has got more complex and it is certainly true that you need to learn a lot of basic knowledge to be productive.

        But that is all it is base knowledge. It is more important to be enquiring and adventurous. You do NOT need a comp sci degree to become a develoeper although society has convinced people they do. Some of the very best developers (old and new) I know are self taught, there is a wealth of learning material out there and very good industry standard tools are now given away for free.

        its never been so easy or accessible to dive in. The real issue is attracting and retain people in the subject as they are increasingly treated like the factory workers of today by management.

        What we do is a highly skilled job and when you join the industry you make a life long commitment to a very steep learning curve. That is of course part of the attraction.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good.

          @geek guy, if the barrier to entry is low and unemployment high (among graduates) it's no wonder developers are treated like factory workers.

          or maybe all those unemployed cs graduates are suckers, wot with 3-4 years' worth student loans to payoff, when all they needed to do was a watch a 10 hour video from coursera to get that Tesco shelf stacking job.

    4. xerocred

      Re: Good.

      Brenda, you need to check the employment statistics at the Higher Education Statitics Authority - computer science has the highest unemployment rate 14.4% among graduates followed closely by engineering. Contrast with medicine at 0.2-3%

      There is no skills shortage that will be fixed with more unemployed cs and eng graduates.

    5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Good.

      Not necessarily. The data is insufficient to judge.

      I would like to see the same number re-normalized across native population vs kids of permanent residents and first generation immigrants. Britain had a significant influx of immigration from countries where STEM is more popular than locally over the last 10 years.

      If the numbers are still positive after being normalized, I agree GOOD. If the number are not positive after being normalized - not GOOD, because in that case they are just a reflection of importation of STEM labor (just at a different level).

  2. Norm DePlume

    Great news

    However, I do wonder how much of it is actually due to the fact these children have spent much of their lives in a recession and would like to be employable at the end of their education.

    1. Greg 16

      Re: Great news

      In the last 40 years, the UK has seen 45 months of recession (80-81, 90-91, 08-09, 15 months each time). An 18 year old starting A-levels this year will have experienced 15 months recession.

      A more likely reason for the change is the end of student grants at University. When a degree is going to cost you £60k, it makes you think a lot more about what career and salary it will lead to. This also leads them to think a lot more about what A-levels to choose, in order to gain entry onto 'profitable' degrees.

  3. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Not so good

    The UK is the sixth biggest digital economy in Europe, but to sustain that position we must have a solid talent pool

    The UK is the second largest economy in Europe and the third largest European country by population. We should be doing more than just trying to sustain our current position.

    1. Dr Who

      Re: Not so good

      Agreed. So, like Brenda, I assume you give up a good slice of your time working with school kids and nurturing their enthusiasm. Unlike you, I don't, but am seriously considering doing so for the reasons you mention.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Not so good

      The CIA World Factbook has this about the economy "The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is the third largest economy in Europe after Germany and France. "

      Of course exchange rates make comparisons difficult.

      But what about "the sixth biggest digital economy". Germany and France? among the top five and then who else.

      1. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

        The CIA World Factbook

        The CIA World Factbook ??

        there must be a comedy goldmine in the title alone.....

        reminds me of that gif of a world map entitled "world according to America"

        1. Lars Silver badge

          Re: The CIA World Factbook

          @ Joey M0usepad

          Try the Wikipedia then.

          "In 2015, the largest economies in the world with more than $2 trillion, €1.25 trillion by nominal GDP were the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and India.[7]"

          PS. Perhaps you have a "France" problem. In my experience younger Brits have less of those problems.

        2. Anonymous Blowhard

          Re: The CIA World Factbook

          "The CIA World Factbook ??

          there must be a comedy goldmine in the title alone....."

          Wait until you've seen the NSA's kids page; Mercury Rising anyone?

        3. Daedalus Silver badge

          Re: The CIA World Factbook

          Don't knock it. It's the best set of facts about countries there is. Contrast that with the the Brit approach. "Call Jorrocks and see who we have in Ismalia..."

        4. John H Woods

          Re: The CIA World Factbook

          ... is a pretty well respected online resource; I suspect that is why you've collected a few down votes.

      2. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Not so good

        We're pretty much on par with France GDP wise, so exchange rates mean we fluctuate between 5th and 6th.

        Good news though, we're forecasted to be the biggest economy in Europe by 2030.

    3. John Sanders

      Re: Not so good

      """We should be doing more than just trying to sustain our current position."""

      I thought it was our position that allowed us to do more in the first place.

      Or do you mean "improve our position even more" ?

    4. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Not so good

      "The UK is the sixth biggest digital economy in Europe..."

      Yeah, but after the first three digital economies, there's a reaaal big drop off.....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually, correlation does not imply causation. People will study what they think will be best for their careers. In the old days that was Latin and Greek.

    Increasing the number of people studying STEM doesn't mean that people magically become better. Or that we'll have more Nobel prize winners.

    "Lack of STEM employees" is directly related to a lack of money on offer in the industry. Or have I missed the bit where investment banks complain about the lack of people trying to apply to them.

  5. John H Woods

    "so-called" skills shortage is right ...

    Looking at the advert on the right ...

    New Business sales: £80,000

    SC Cleared Planning Engineer: £43,000

    Magento Developer: £35,000 - £40,000

    You'd be better off spending 3 years and £30,000 learning golf, as I see no sign of the UK's distinctly anti-meritocratic culture fading.

    1. dotdavid

      Re: "so-called" skills shortage is right ...

      This is the problem. There is no skills shortage, there is a skills shortage at the price certain employers are willing to pay which of course is a subtly different thing.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "so-called" skills shortage is right ...@dotdavid

        Exactly right. Try starting salaries in the mid £20k range for someone with a PhD in the hard sciences (that's a minimum of 7 years at uni) and you'll quickly understand why so many are turning their back on STEM careers.

        Why bother when the finance industry is more than willing to pay 5 to 10x the amount for the same people in order to engineer the next economic crisis?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: "so-called" skills shortage is right ...

      But that rosy picture is not the whole story.

      In 3 years the business guy will be promoted, the planner will have a job for life and the developer will be fired when the next new sexy technology comes along

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Greg 16

      Re: "so-called" skills shortage is right ...

      For that job in Business Sales, you will be expected to have the technical knowledge, high level customer facing skills, a large amount of contacts from previous employers and, most importantly, sales skills.

      Supply and demand.

      1. F0rdPrefect

        Re: "so-called" skills shortage is right ...

        @Greg16, I've yet to meet the salesman with proper technical knowledge.

        That is why there are jobs such as pre-sales support.

        And very few techies would sell vapour-ware, but many sales people would and have.

    5. F0rdPrefect

      Re: "so-called" skills shortage is right ...

      And don't forget those employers who will not take on people over 50, even if they have exactly the skill set advertised for.

      You have to be young and dynamic, apparently.

      But I shouldn't complain as when the young and dynamic developer moves on for more money, leaving a bit of a mess, I get to earn some more cash cleaning up before the next time.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Yes but no but...

    Good news, but how many of them will decide to waste their skills as accountants or bankers rather than going into IT or science research?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yes but no but...

      "...but how many of them will decide to waste their skills as accountants or bankers"

      The ones who realize that not only is there a lot of money there, but Finance is actually a lot more interesting than people think?

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Yes but no but...

        A lot of physics PhDs end up as quants, because the money is so good.

        This is everyone's loss, because they're basically paid to find ways to fix the global casino known as "the markets".

        If they were doing something useful, like working on interplanetary propulsion or even better clean energy, we'd have colonies on the Moon and Mars, an asteroid mining operation, and a ship halfway to Alpha Centauri by now.

    2. Greg 16

      Re: Yes but no but...

      "Good news, but how many of them will decide to waste their skills as accountants or bankers rather than going into IT or science research?"

      Why is that a waste of their skills? Even allowing for the global financial crisis, the world of finance has been unbelievably profitable for the UK and makes up a very large part of our exports.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Yes but no but...

        >Why is that a waste of their skills?

        Because in the end, they're basically finding more and more convoluted ways of "rent seeking", or, if you prefer, using the enormous assets of financial institutions to impose a private tax on financial transactions.

        This is very much like posting a gunship outside a harbour and using it to exact customs duties. In the short term, the ship with the biggest guns can make a lot of money, but at the expense of investment in productive trade that would actually increase the total size of the economy.

        [Yes, I realise that the participants justify their activities as achieving more perfect market pricing, but that doesn't really wash when the biggest participants in the market are neither the suppliers nor ultimate consumers of the products they're buying and selling].

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    The Telegenic Snowden effect

    "Mom, I want to UNDERSTAND this cryptography stuff!"

    "Don't you rather want to become a laywer? Or get employed at GDS?"


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A-Level results

    There is one very large problem with the results we are seeing - the standard of the exam papers.

    I have friends with teenagers that have just passed their A-Levels in maths and physics and are looking to engineering as their future (I hope the decision was helped because I did a little pushing in that direction). I did rather floor them earlier in the week when I dug out my old O-level GCE papers from the 50s and let them have a go at them. They considered them much harder than their A-Level papers (they didn't want to even look at my A-level GCE papers).

    From my rather small direct sample and what I see at clients employing new engineering graduates, there is a real need for the standard of the STEM examinations to be raised much higher than it is.

    For that to happen there are two other things needed (apart from better teachers).

    First there needs to be a cultural shift in peoples attitudes to STEM and engineering in general. Engineers, and I use that in a general all inclusive sense, are the life blood of society, without them our civilisation would grind to a halt. Despite this the public's perception is that engineers are second rate.

    Second, there needs to be a shift in how employers view engineers. At the moment they appear to be considered as a necessary evil to be endured rather than encouraged. That includes pay levels being equal or above sales staff.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: A-Level results

      The chance of the above happening are at Kim Dotcom levels.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: A-Level results

      Hmm. Maths doesn't really change that much, so I'm dubious on this. In the late 90s, we prepared for our Maths A levels by doing past papers from the 50s onwards, all were on a par with the modern stuff. The older papers had less "hand holding" (eg, guiding you through the solution by asking intermediate questions), but A level questions don't have too much of that any way.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: A-Level results

        Let's ignore maths for the moment.

        Pick up a copy "Coral Island" or "The Railway Children" and see what the young 'uns make of it. These are children's books.

        Regardless of what you think of the idea that good communication is clear and simple, simply growing up routinely dealing with such complexity is going to stand you in good stead. School is, to a large extent, an academic discipline - its there to help exercise and train your mind to deal with difficult things.

        The problem with paying for education is that it skews the subjects towards things which will obviously pay better and forces up the costs to employers, who thought they were getting staff trained for free. If your degree costs 60k you're unlikely to enter a lower-paid field. You may find your smart minds all end up doing law even if they were interested in chemistry simply because the up-front risk is too high.

    3. Dr Who

      Re: A-Level results

      Hear hear!. The only bit I don't get is this continual comparison of engineers/techies and sales staff. It's not what you do, it's about how well you do it.

      If the sales person in question is a cold calling telesales person they get paid peanuts - probably less than an equivalently skilled tech job. If they have the rare ability to make sales of tens or hundreds of millions of pounds a year they of course get paid a shed load.

      Equally if I fix PC hardware or hack code I get paid peanuts. If on the other hand I write a brilliant search algorithm and pair that up with an ingenious page rank system in order to enable highly targeted advertising, I get paid a bomb. As I would if I were to invent cold fusion in my garage.

      To get paid well, it's not enough to do a good job. You have to be creative, innovative and several cuts above average. It's nothing to do with engineering vs sales.

      And to those who argue that the City is hoovering up all the best IT talent for huge salaries, of course they do. Finance is basically an IT industry now and they need the best software architects and network architects in the world to compete. It proves that there is indeed a a very well paid market for the best tech talent.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A-Level results

      Actually, the "exams are becoming easier" is itself a fallacy. The reason they couldn't do your O-level papers is that they are taught different things in classes. You would have thought the same thing if you had been shown a this year's GCSE paper in the 1950s.

      Now, the % of As being awarded, that's where the "getting easier" bit comes from... At the same time, though, we can't have 50% of people getting below a C, because that a C is considered the pass/fail point these days.

      So, yeah, pretty much everyone will get an A, B or C these days. It doesn't really mean much, and certainly I don't think that kids are any lazier/dumber.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: A-Level results

        Yes, we used to be taught calculus at O-level, now I have physics undergrads starting that haven't done any calculus at A level.

        Not their fault, the system is for the schools to pick the options that gets the easiest good grades and we choose to admit the kids with the highest grades.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A-Level results

          It does not stop there.

          Universities are closing down STEM departments because they cost too much to run.

          For example Reading Uni is closing its 'Systems Engineering' Department

          After the Physics Department

          I studied Mech Eng at a Poly in the 1970's. They had a full programme of Maths , Science and Engineering. Now? Only the Maths department remains but for how long?

          so where are our budding Engineers going to get trained?

          Oh, silly me. STEM is not going to get my my 15nano seconds of media fame so many good young people opt for softer 'Media Studies' courses in the hope of becoming a 'z' list celeb.

    5. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: A-Level results

      Basically the same here in Grumpenland: metrics became the goal, good marks make good metrics. Now there is a _lot_ more top marks (in school) than used to be. Did kids become geniuses at a massive scale? No, the tests are now much easier. We have _engineering_ students that cannot calculate with fractions. Complex numbers? Never fucking heard of them!

      Metrics, again: Unis suck up to those as well. Now just GUESS what will happen.

      Another big problem: in my days a bad exam meant a serious conversation with your parents, now it's increasingly parents talking to the teacher, via lawyers (screw the lot!).

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A-Level results

      We need 10 more Diracs, not a big pile of Tomorrow's world presenters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A-Level results

        Diracs, Feynmans, Gell-Manns... thing is, these geniuses are born, not taught. They could not have been prevented from learning...

        Now, if you can figure out a teaching method to turn merely clever students into geniuses...

    7. Greg 16

      Re: A-Level results

      Sales staff are well paid because they have the technical knowledge as well as a natural ability in sales, which cannot be taught. Experienced sales staff also have their existing customer base which is very attractive to new employers. It's all about supply and demand and also what you are worth to a company.

      You might not think that sales staff are worth what they are paid, so if you was the boss, would you sack them all? Good luck to any business that tries that.

    8. veti Silver badge

      Re: A-Level results

      Engineers ... are the life blood of society, without them our civilisation would grind to a halt

      I've been hearing that whinge (from engineers) for 30 years.

      But what none of the people who say it seem to realise is, you can substitute any profession for "engineers" in that sentence and it will still be true. Farmers, miners, factory workers, salespeople, barristas, beauticians, journalists, administrators - heck, even politicians - without all of these, our civilisation would grind to a halt. Everything depends on engineering, yes - but engineers, in turn, depend on all of the above. That's what living in an advanced economy means.

      And that may be why pleading for special recognition on that basis hasn't worked.

  9. Joey M0usepad Silver badge

    i got your skills right here

    Over here!

    I got skillz!

    20 years worth general I.T

    and only 25k would get me into your .co


    1. Salts

      Re: i got your skills right here

      Hear you :-(

      If I had my time again, I would be an electrician, plumber or the like, old skills don't change so much but everyone needs them.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: i got your skills right here

        Indeed. These days a 'house basher' earns far more than a multi-skilled electronic service engineer.

        For multi skilled read:

        Mechanical, Hydrolics, Pnumatics, Electrical, Electronic, Programming, Panel design/fitting.

        Oh, and obsolescence upgrades on all of the above.

        P.S.... and we need it running in 2 hours.

      2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: i got your skills right here

        After coming out of a well-paid IT development/maintance job in Hong Kong and returning to the UK and spending three years being turned down for jobs, I retrained as a sparky, but now my knees are too knackered to keep doing it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: i got your skills right here

          @JG, I emphathise - I am in HK and still have a job, for the moment.

          My knees are already knackered too.

        2. Vic

          Re: i got your skills right here

          I retrained as a sparky

          After the better part of 40 years in computing, I was thinking about trying something else myself. I figured being a plumber would be quite a plan - a friend of mine is a sparky, so we'd complement each other, and the money isn't bad.

          I talked it through with the guy that used to be my plumber before he retired. His answer was memorable: "Why do you want to spend your days kneeling in someone else's piss?"

          I think I might stop where I am for what little remains of my working life...


          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: i got your skills right here

            I'm seriously thinking about becoming a herbalist and building a lab in the garden shed :)

            Basically something as far away from IT as I can possibly get - although I will probably keep my hand in by rigging up solar/wind/battery backup solution to make sure my potions experiments don't get ruined mid-way!

  10. SVV Silver badge

    In my experience, the problem lies with management

    That so many more people are studying these subjects is great news - I did Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A level, then studied Engineering at University. The reason I did this is because I had taught myself to program really competently by the time I was 14 during the early 80s home computer revolution, and computer studies O level was so easy for me I breezed through it with a grade A without really having to expend any intellectual effort at all.

    Engineering has proved a very useful background to have since I moved into IT at the age of 24, as the thoroughness, focus on processes, best practices, reuse of knowledge, quality assurance, etc that are bread and butter to engineers have always been sorely lacking in many of the places I've worked in the last 20 years, as IT just has not evolved enough to take these things seriously enough.

    This is entirely the fault of management who probably don't have a clue about these issues and let hacker minded kids off the leash to create unholy messes because they see "results" happening quickly. MBAs and economics just do not place the emphasis on the engineering things that should make software engineering much more like civil or chemical engineering.

    Anyway, good luck to them, studying maths or engineering will make you a far better IT person than business studies in my experience.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: In my experience, the problem lies with management

      But in the UK, an engineer is unlikely to be promoted to a position where they are managing business graduates. A business graduate will soon be managing engineers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: In my experience, the problem lies with management

        '.. A business graduate will soon be mismanaging engineers.'

        Fixed that one for you...

        You know it's time to jump ship when you have to carry out the orders of a fresh faced MBA which you know are both wrong (from an engineering stance) and will cost the company fecktons of money when the brown stuff finally hits the swirly metal thing.

        (Was also seriously asked last week by one of these clueless twats if an item we produce on a lathe could be produced on one of our 3-axis CNC mills..)

  11. Tom 38 Silver badge

    SAS's research with The Tech Partnership suggests there will be approximately 56,000 job opportunities for big data professionals by 2020

    Damnit, shouldn't have gone on that diet.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I used to love IT (sort of still do). But senior management drive to cut costs and outsource anything and everything just so they could get their golden cock-shake ruined it for me and many others. Still, wish all those joining the IT brigade lots of success, and remember not to let the bastards grind you down.

  13. Daedalus Silver badge

    Cannon fodder

    More muppets for us to clean up after. We're in the money....

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We want today's kids to be stupid and cocky... we can keep our well paid jobs for longer. Seems to be working; I assume Windows 10 was written by 24 year olds. All the signs are there: it's brightly coloured, attention seeking and incomplete with no substance whatsoever underneath.

    I look forward to being 90 and having one of these over entitled clueless muppets wiping the drool off my chin because they're not educated enough to do anything else, thanks to our enlightened policy of congratulating kids for not crapping in their pants, deeming everyone to be a success at everything and giving total credence to every daft uttering of anyone under 40.

    Q. WTF is a STEM ambassador?

    A. Someone not up to doing a real job.

    1. CP/M-80

      Re: We want today's kids to be stupid and cocky...

      Q. WTF is a STEM ambassador?

      A. Someone who volunteers their time to help promote STEM subjects in schools, etc. in addition to their regular job.

      Fixed that for you.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad Bastards

    Seems that the majority of respondents to the article are on the 'loser' side of working in IT.

    For some of us IT has been a very successful career - I'm still a programmer at 57 and earn far more than most other professionals. There is no doubt that its a hard career, constantly having to refresh skills to keep current but I worked that out 30 years ago.

    It's great that so many students are getting STEM qualifications and it's complex rubbish that they won't be any good compared to those who learned their skills in the 'old days'. As an employer I wouldn't expect a grad to turn out quality solutions compared to somebody with a few years of solid experience but that's why they are paid less to start with.

    So while the UK does need plumbers and electricians what it needs far more is technologists to work in and create the companies of the future.

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