According to the Department for Education & Skills, 18% of the UK workforce is made up of technicians at National Qualification Framework level 3 (possessing two A levels or advanced General National Vocational Qualifications).
This compares with about 50% in Germany.
Sainsbury admitted that part of the problem with the low uptake of engineering technicians gaining qualifications above level 3 was due to funding.
'The government is putting effort into level 2 to get the key skills. After that, people and industry must work forward.
We hope that through raising standards in schools and monitoring performance, we'll get there, ' he said.
But Brooksby Melton College lecturer Richard Trevarthen, who oversees apprenticeship training, believes too much emphasis is given to key skills.
'I believe key skills should be taught in schools, not as part of vocational training - students want to be trained as engineers, not in key skills' he said.