With A-level results out in a few days, Prof. Dr. Paul Beasley, Head of R&D UK, Siemens plc talks about the importance of maintaining A-level standards and the effects COVID-disruptions have had on student attainments.

I think that is it is important for industry recruitment and university entry that the there is a “year-on-year” standard that reflects the performance of the students. Over the past 2 years, I have heard from universities about the numbers of students that “appear” to have achieved that standard but subsequently flounder and are out of their depth. In the long run this can have a long lasting detrimental effort on students careers, making poorly-informed career choices. It also undermines trust in the system.

However, I do believe that there should be a much more diverse and inclusive method of evaluation rather than such a large weighting on one or two exams.

There is currently a very high demand for students with digital skills, particularly those that have some sector knowledge. As in the past, when all of the top engineers were attracted by high salaries in finance, we are still seeing high quality students attracted there but now by many of the large US digital organisations etc that have established HQs and research centres close to top universities who have open cheque books. The reason for them to setup in the UK and not flock to Europe, post Brexit, is that even though the UK produces significantly fewer skilled people in this area the quality is very high, with many going on to form start-ups etc.

One theme that is growing very quickly is a need for engineers with knowledge of green technologies.

Siemens is building closer ties with several core UK universities and recently announced it had evolved a strategic engagement programme with universities to include, for the first time, seven universities from the UK in the top tier of innovation partners for its new global Research and Innovation Ecosystems (RIE).