Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, claims the UK's attitude towards IT needs to change, starting in schools, and claims it is a nation of "luvvies" rather than "boffins".
Schmidt delivered the prestigious MacTaggart Lecture at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival and said that, over the past century, the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths.
"There's been a drift towards the humanities – engineering and science aren't championed. Even worse, both sides seem to denigrate the other. To use what I'm told is the local vernacular, you're either a 'luvvy' or a 'boffin'," he said.
He added that in order to change the way UK society perceives technology, schools need to reignite children's passion for science, engineering and maths.
"In the 1980s, the BBC not only broadcast programming for kids about coding, but – in partnership with Acorn – shipped more than a million BBC microcomputers into schools and homes. That was a fabulous initiative, but it's long gone."
He said he was shocked to learn that computer science is not taught as standard in UK schools. The IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made.
"That is just throwing away your great computing heritage," added Schmidt.