The CEO of O2, based in Reading, said today that the UK needs more skilled workers to meet the demands of the high-end tech industry. The CEO of a metal works, also based in Reading, voiced a similar concern: school leavers and graduates in the UK are not being given sufficient skills to make them employable.
Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2, speaking to Radio 4, described the shortage as “a huge issue”.
He said: “The UK needs to make sure it has the best skills available so that it can in order to compete domestically and internationally. Some of those may have to come from overseas. In the long term we need to make sure that less of those need to be brought in, because we have the right skills coming from our schools and universities.
“We need to make sure government is supporting the right level of investment in STEM skills – making sure we have more engineers, more computer science graduates.
“At the very high end in tech, it’s fair to say that there isn’t a sufficient supply in the UK of the skills we need.”
Nick Bion , CEO of Bion Metals, also speaking to Radio 4, voiced similar concerns for the engineering industry and said he finds it hard to recruit staff at the level he needs: “You have to have highly skilled, knowledgeable people to run plants like ours; you can’t afford to make mistakes.
“One thing that would help us a lot would be improving the education of science, technology, engineering and maths in schools and universities, starting in primary school.
“I think manufacturing needs something like 25% more graduates coming out of university. They’re some of the highest paid graduates, so more engineering graduates is good for graduates and good for the industry."
According to research carried out by High Fliers, the Oil and Energy (engineering for those specific products) sector is the third best paid for graduates with starting salaries of about £32,500, behind just two other sectors: Investment Banking and Law.
IT and Telecommunications is seventh, but the average starting salary is still very high, at £30,000. Industrial engineering is not far behind with an average starting salary of £27,500.