We need to invest in STEM to make the most of talent

European workers including nurses, social workers and teaching assistants protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London before lobbying MPs over their right to remain in the UK.  Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

RICK JACKSON: Why aren’t we on the streets protesting about Brexit?

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During the past week or so I’ve been reminded about how good we Brits are at doing stuff.

We’re not exceptionally great at crowing about our achievements internationally, but perhaps that’s part of our national identity.

Current affairs overtook me, but last week I was planning to write about how the World Wide Web turned 25 this month – and about what a difference it’s made to our lives.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed a way of making the internet – the technology that links networks together – not only easily accessible to the common person without a doctorate in computer science, but also easy to add to.

The internet itself had been around in its first form since the 1950s, but what Sir Tim – now a professor at the University of Southampton – did was to devise a way for us to make web pages, talk to each other on social media and download pictures of cats.

That ability to communicate around the world has revolutionised how we live our lives.

I’ll e-mail this column to The News, having double-checked some of my facts on the internet using a number of news and encyclopaedia websites.

Sir Tim, however, couldn’t have got where he was without Alan Turing – the founding father of the computer and the man responsible for much of the Allies’ code-breaking prowess in the Second World War.

Thanks to him, Operation Overlord could be launched from Portsmouth safe in the knowledge that the Germans didn’t know what was coming.

Last week the chancellor announced the formation of the Alan Turing Institute, which will focus on new ways to collect and analyse the huge amounts of data that now make our world go round.

The chancellor said he is ‘determined that our country is going to out-compete, out-smart and out-do the rest of the world’.

If we can continue to produce people like Messrs Turing and Berners-Lee, I suspect George Osborne will be proved right. But the government and schools must invest more in STEM subjects, because otherwise that raw talent will end up like a broken bit of code – useless.