Peter Voser says university leavers let down by education system and governments that have neglected manufacturing

Arjun Neil Alim and Michael O’Dwyer

The number of UK graduates going into professional services careers rather than manufacturing represents a “failure” of industrial policy, former Royal Dutch Shell chief Peter Voser has said.

Voser, who now chairs Swiss engineering group ABB, said that British university graduates had been let down by the country’s education system and successive governments that neglected its manufacturing sector.

“I think the UK forgot how important certain sectors are,” he said. “It’s a failure . . . [that so many graduates go into consulting]. There should be more in, for example, advanced manufacturing.”

Professional services firms such as consultancies have expanded rapidly, helped by demand from companies short on staff and desperate to make their operations digital after the pandemic. The need for advice on compliance with regulations and the adoption of climate impact targets has also driven demand for advisers.