Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Must Grow Talent for Tomorrow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Must Grow Talent for Tomorrow

Article excerpt

Byline: Anthony Hilton CITY COMMENT

[bar] T USED to be commonplace for students to be sponsored through university. The most affluent students by far in my day were the medics who had contracted to join the army for a few years on graduation, and in return drew a junior officer's pay for the six years of their training.

Less well-off but still comfortable were a raft of engineers, pharmacologists and geologists who were being paid for by companies that were obviously hoping those educated at their expense would stay with them for a long time. Some did, some didn't -- but those who left did so generally because their employer failed to offer them the career path they wanted.

It is an idea that has fallen out of fashion.

Outside the financial sector, companies complain continually about the shortage of graduates and the dearth of young people today who take science-based and practical degrees as opposed to the near-useless education of media studies. But they do little or nothing to make a difference in the one way that most obviously would work -- by providing help with the finance.

They remain surprisingly keen to send existing employees off to business school -- where any imagination and originality in their management approach will be surgically removed -- but reluctant to give bursaries to undergraduates and grow their own talent. The short-sightedness of this approach was summed up by one large company which happily boasted that it has set up an office in Moscow to recruit Russian graduates in electrical engineering, taught them English and paid for them to move to the UK. It never entered the company's head that it could get the staff it needed more cheaply by supporting a batch of students through university at home. The time is surely right for a change -- or rather to return to how things were 40 years ago. …

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