back to article Sir James Dyson slams gov's 'obsession' with Silicon Roundabout

Inventor Sir James Dyson has criticised the UK government for putting "web fads and video gaming" ahead of more "tangible technology" that Britain can export. In an interview with the Radio Times magazine, the creator of the bagless vacuum cleaner said ministers needed to address a serious lack of engineering graduates in the …


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  1. BCS

    British knowledge is simply taken abroad

    Yeah, just like British jobs when you moved the factory to Malaysia from Malmesbury...

  2. localzuk

    Come back when you manufacture in the UK Mr Dyson

    Your argument is flawed in that as soon as anyone over here designs anything, they just get some giant company in China or Thailand to manufacture it for them - which isn't great for generating wealth in the UK.

    Whereas, hiring a pile of game developers or website managers does.

    1. DapaBlue

      Re: Come back when you manufacture in the UK Mr Dyson

      Not completely true, video games can have their fair share of outsourcing too. Check the end credits screen for Batman Arkham City - the bulk of development done in North London, but what most be close to one thousand people at various sites around the world completed the game testing / review.

  3. Some Beggar

    Fading self-publicist complains that he isn't getting as much attention as the new kids on the block.

    More news at 10.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Actions speak louder than words

    So Dyson says that "Engineering postgraduates need to be encouraged with generous salaries." Very nice, and how much are Dyson paying engineering graduates this year?

    Well the careers site doesn't specify, but for the Graduate Design Engineer 'immediate start' it does say that " Many staff members lift-share from the nearby cities of Bristol and Bath..." which speaks volumes.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Actions speak louder than words

      This Robert Peston blog from 2011 on the BBC website says £25,200 per annum and a joining bonus of up to £3000.

      1. Anonymous Coward 101

        Re: Actions speak louder than words

        Link here:

    2. NogginTheNog

      Re: Actions speak louder than words

      What?? it speaks volumes in that they're very environmentally conscious, or have a shortage of car parking facilities, or there's huge traffic issues in the area, or possibly all of those and more?!! Bugger all about salaries though?

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Actions speak louder than words

        unless they lift share private jets

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Actions speak louder than words

          >" Many staff members lift-share from the nearby cities of Bristol and Bath..." which speaks volumes.

          What, that their employees are on friendly terms with each other? Many of my mates in Bristol would lift-share to Oldbury or Berkeley nuclear sites.... their intranet would facilitate such things. I'm sure Renishaws staff living in Bristol do the same. On bridges over the M5 you will see parked cars, suggesting that people do the same for jobs based in Bristol.

          >unless they lift share private jets

          Actually, my sister who lives near Malmsbury, used to drive to Airbus in Filton, get on a small jet with colleagues, and then conduct her day's work in Toulouse. But that's by-the-by.

    3. Some Beggar

      Re: Actions speak louder than words

      The MD at a previous company often came to work on an ancient push-bike. We must have been paying the poor soul in peanuts. I've no idea how he managed to buy that yacht and retire to Cannes.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I kinda agree

    on the topic of postgrads etc getting naff all pay anyway. I'm on a good wage for my local area, and just below the national average for my career choice.

    I earn as much as a shop assistant does in London.

    And the fact that postgrads aren't getting jobs in engineering normally isn't down to trying, it's down to not enough jobs, and not enough employers willing to take the chance on a new hire. "You must have at least X years experience" stops a lot of post grads in their tracks.

    I honestly wish they'd do more to differentiate the wages for 'skilled' workers and non skilled workers a little more. I'm not saying to hold the shop assistant down by any means, they work hard and they get paid sweet FA. But the fact that skilled labour isn't getting much more than they are is what's insulting.

    1. JimC

      Re: I kinda agree

      Hmm, have you tried working as a shop assistant? Coping with the great British public is (sadly more than obviously) not a skill taught in schools, but a skill, I submit, it most certainly is.

  6. jake Silver badge

    Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

    They don't work as advertised. He's a marketard, not an engineer.

    THAT said, he's right ... the Silly Con Roundabout is separating fools from their money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

      Too bloody right, come back when you've got a vacuum that doesn't cost a fortune, doesn't weigh a ton (the Mrs could hardly lift ours) and doesn't fall to pieces within a year. Grr!

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

        Sorry, but my Dyson Ball vacuum is fecking brilliant,. and has never gone wrong.

        It's a bit heavy though. But then, so's a Landrover.

        1. pepper

          Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

          You use a landrover to vacuum clean?!! You sir, should appear on top gear, I'm sure Clarkson would love to be able to help in his house chores that way!!

        2. Some Beggar

          Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

          I have trouble getting under the furniture and into awkward corners with a Landrover.

          1. pepper

            Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

            Aaah yes, one of the problems the imaginative lads at Landrover havent solved yet..

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

          Dyson's are built to last; my wife's brutality with appliances is legendary (along the lines of "Miss Trunchbull") and the three year old Dyson still looks like new!

        4. LOL123
          Thumb Up

          Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

          Have to agree - my Dyson Ball Animal something is pretty darn good. It's significantly better than an older Miele.

      2. fixit_f
        Thumb Up

        Re: Have any of you actully attempted to use any of Dyson's products?

        Much as I'm always delighted to slag things off, I have to say I have a cylinder Dyson which is about seven years old and used every week to mop up copious amounts of cat and girlfriend hair - it's still absolutely fine, nothing broken on it, all dandy apart from an occasional set of new filters. I also have one of the new handheld ones which is also excellent.

  7. teapot9999

    encourage proper degrees

    Make engineering and science degrees free for UK citizens, funded by all those wasting 3 years doing media studies, drama and other waste of time 'degrees'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: encourage proper degrees

      Agreed. Courses should be subsidized based on how useful the degree is.

      Comp Sci / Engineering etc heavy subsidization, Drama etc charge full price.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Stacy

    Back when I had just graduated (some 14 years ago) and was working for a company making production control software I was sent to a rather large engineering company in Liverpool for some trouble shooting.

    Having lunch with one of the senior managers he explained the problem with engineering grads to be that they come in waves. At one point he had hundreds of grad applicants per position, and the pay was according to demand and supply. And so the students choose other studies, as the graduates dried up the salaries rose and then there was a new wave of people doing engineering courses - after all it's a growing industry - just in time for the market to be flooded again when they qualified.

    Mind you the wages he was discussing (pitiful), along with the hours (far too long) made me glad I picked something else...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The other problem is that this affects your lifetime earnings.

      Because raises are always a % of your salary - if you got hired in a slump you are going to be paid 20% less and this compounds each year so you end up with 50% less lifetime earnings than somebody hired in a boom.

      One previous employer went bust because it had an entire telecoms division hired at "competing with banks" salaries who got the same round of pay rises but never billed enough work. Of course they also had enough people on the board to make sure that their division never got cut - right upto the point everyone got cut!

  10. George 8

    I say, can we have a daily dyson rant

    I remember when Edwina Currey had bad words to say about eggs (and scoucers). Everyone was outraged, but things changed.

    I like what Dyson has done here. Can he do this everyday, a daily dyson rant for me...

    And for what its worth, I'd like a Silicon Sefton (nice alliteration) and try to employ peopleoutside of London in our industry. Why is this place in London where rates are sooooo high and job proposects equally high.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: I say, can we have a daily dyson rant

      Agreed - all this bollocks bout Silicon Roundabout - when there are perfectly good Science Parks style places all around the country doing much the same thing. Or trying to, but having to complete with bloody London when it get all the fecking plaudits from the government.

      Christ, its like Silicon Roundabout is the first high tech place in the UK. Hint to government, no it's bloody not.

      1. Some Beggar

        Re: I say, can we have a daily dyson rant

        Blustery Boris is (however astonishingly) one of the government's biggest assets at the moment. Spending a few million to bolster his reputation in London is probably better value for money (from a party political perspective) than spending it on low-profile developments in woolly liberal provincial towns.

        And I say that as somebody whose UK workplace is in a science park in a woolly liberal provincial town.

  11. Rocket888

    "The billionaire industrial designer, who also invented the blade-less fan"

    Is that true or did he simply package an existing known concept and market it successfully?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "The billionaire industrial designer, who also invented the blade-less fan"

      The latter... but the 're-packaging' took a fair bit of effort. Also, if it were so obvious, why wasn't everybody already doing it? A few companies did try the "Let's copy him anyway, I'm sure he'll run out of cash to defend his patents soon enough" trick, but they underestimated his tanacity (and he sold the design exclusively in Japan for a while, to finance his patent battle). I assume the patents have expired now, since there are dozens of bagless vacuum cleaners on the market now.

      I have seen a fair few of the older Dyson cleaners in skips, with broken handles and the like, but not so much the recent ones. (Skip diving: for fun, profit and education!) A mate of mine is building a collection of Henrys that he has found in skips, usually working.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we have a Silicon Snowdonia please (or Bangor if you want a university city) ?

    Dyson: new graduates: "£25,200 per annum and a joining bonus of up to £3000."

    Aldi: new graduates: 40k/year plus car plus prospects.


    Is this what that foreign bloke meant when he called us "a nation of shopkeepers"?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Can we have a Silicon Snowdonia please (or Bangor if you want a university city) ?

      I remember being told of 'Silicon Dell' and 'Silicon Glen' during geography lessons in the 90s!

      1. proto-robbie


        Silicon Sall is the girl for me...

  13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    Engineering is seen here as anything more than dying on its arse, then you might get people interested in either working in engineering or doing an engineering degree.

    But then they look at the wages involved and suddenly find out that being a shift leader at macburgers can earn you more than most engineering jobs.

    While you are all smugly congratulating Dyson for exporting the low paid jobs to his assembly plant in China while expanding his R&D labs stuffed with clever folks, spare a thought for the robot programmers and skilled engineering technicians who actually build and mantain the assembly lines so much stuff is made on.

    We're out of a job too, with the result nobody wants to get into our line of business either.

    Tramp icon.... because thats what most of us will be dressed as soon

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: When

      >robot programmers and skilled engineering technicians

      I know one- he troubleshoots the CNC machines that Airbus use. He says he absolutely loves his job.

      >who actually build and maintain the assembly lines so much stuff is made on.

      And then there is Renshaw based outside Bristol, who make metrology equipment, used in manufacturing when you really need to put a component in the correct place. Privately owned, the millionaire owner is still a hands-on engineer, its the only non-Japanese company to win certain Japanese manufacturing awards, the first company to be awarded Investors in People, numerous Queen's Awards for Industry, it employees engineers, programmers, assemblers, and six full-time patent lawyers, and recently expanded its operation to a massive former-Bosch site in South Wales, for the neurosurgery and dental divisions.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        Re: When

        Your airbus friend... how many years of skill/knowledge has he had to learn in order to do the job safely, and efficently?

        For my line of the game, its anywhere between 5 and 10 yrs depending on the person, learning stuff about CAM systems, the robot's language, how the materials react to being hit with a cutter etc etc etc , then look at the pay for someone whos done A levels, got a 2:2 from uni and managed to get themselves a banking job.

        Who the hell is going to put themselves through 10 yrs of learning when they could do 5 yrs of learning and earn twice as much at the end with a prospect of bonuses and regular payrises/career progression

        Oh and there are good engineering companies out there, I work at a sub-contractor for 2 companies that have queens award for exporting stuff, we're never short of work from them, in fact , they are the ones always stuffing up our production plans by demanding even more of their crap vs the crap we make for several other companies too.

        It is just the crummy wages on offer to most engineering staff that keep the best people (and the people we need) out of engineering altogether.

  14. Pypes

    This noise again

    Every time I hear an industrialist bitching about a lack of engineers I automatically assume its just setting up a smokescreen for imminent demands for public cash and /or moving a large fraction of their operations abroad.

    I've got a fair bit of respect for Mr Dyson so I'm going to take what hes saying in good faith, but as someone who spent his late teens / early twenties desperately trying to get some sort of engineering apprenticeship, and has since given up and taken an MEng with the OU I can tell you all that your average "there's no engineers" complaint is coming from someone who is doing absolutely fuck all to rectify the problem.

    A typical argument will go thus:

    "Bawww, there is no one with $skillset that we depend on for our business, someone fix this"

    "Why don't you take on some apprentices then and train them to be exactly what you need?"

    "Fuck that, kids are idiots, we don't want kids scruffying up or lovely factory floors"

    or alternatively

    "Bawww, we need $highlyspecializedgraduate but no one is training for that anymore!!!!"

    "What are you paying, I may be interested in re-training?"

    "£18K / year"

    Fuck them basically, unless every one of your engineers has a pimple faced 17 year old permanently welded to his hip then you have absolutely no right to complain about a lake of people with the skills you need.

  15. Magister

    I have to partly agree with what JD has said; the government are just too focussed on developing the one area of London rather than take a longer term view for the whole country. But part of the issue comes back to the mandarins of the uncivil service; they take the view that "we don't do manufacturing in the UK" and therefore absolutely bugger all thought goes into any planning for manufacturing or development. (I've seen a number of cases where they actively oppose any such work, unless they personally get something out of it)

    As many others have pointed out, Dyson outsourced their manufacturing; they are not the only ones. This is because as everyone knows, it is cheaper. Except that it more often isn't; numerous examples exist that show the savings are less, costs are higher, productivity and quality are a lot lower when the work is outsourced.

    But hey, whilst we have policy being made by people that clearly haven't a clue, then we can't expect anything different.

  16. Jay Holmes

    Random question, dont care if it gets down voted or not.

    What exactly is all this bollox about hiring "Skilled" workers? Just because you are a graduate doesnt make you a "skilled worker" it means you are a potential worker with an aptitude for learning skills. A "skilled worker" is someone that can do the job already!

    Also why should you get more pay for starting a job? In every job I have ever done I have started at the bottom and worked my way up why shouldnt they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Start job in retail, begin at £9 an hour (talking london here) advance over four years to a supervisor role, working 37.5h a week.

      4 years you have earned roughly 72000 and are now on a job paying over £20k a year.

      Study at uni for 4 years get a weekend job working 12h + maintanence loan would net you £32k over 4 years, but also leaves you with £36k debt, so you've wound up (technically) earning -4k.

      You then get a graduate job which pays less than if you'd spent your time working in a highstreet store, IF you're lucky, otherwise you wind up not getting a job, and having to take a job in a highstreet store, starting yourself back at the same stage you would have been at without the degree.

      the 4 years of uni are meant to be training to get you a specialized job which is meant to pay more than a job you can get straight out of school. Often it doesn't.

      Personally I think we'd be better off scrapping some unis to be honest. If only those who get 2:1 and 1st degrees will get hired then we're effectively shooting ourselves in the foot with half the applicants. We'd be better off taking an approach where only the smart folks can get in there, better education for them, better wages for those who'd get the job anyway, and less national debt.

      College and Uni already have the grade criteria, but they don't do it very well. We'd be better off having single year courses. If you get below X grade on year one, you don't advance to year 2.

      And I don't mean in the sense of you fail the assignment I mean the sense of... hmm...

      College, you can do a Btec ND as a 2 year course, or the certificate which is 1 year.

      The change would be both are 1 year courses, you need to do the certificate to do the diploma, and you need to get a grade of X or higher to continue. If you don't get the equivialent of a first on the certificate then you don't advance. That way the people who are smart enough won't be held back by lecturers helping the dumb, meanwhile people who won't benefit from further education on the subject can get into the workforce quicker without feeling they have to complete the course because they've paid for it and so far gotten nothing out of it.

      Same with Uni, if you go for the first year you'd need to keep a 2:1 average or not advance, if you can't do that in year 1 with how easy that stuff is you shouldn't be there, maintain it for each year at uni and let the course roll on, then have degrees reflect how long they lasted.

      1 year = foundation degree

      2 year = X degree

      3 year = Bachelors degree

      4 year = Masters

      5 year = PHD (or whatever comes after masters)

      Each year studies get harder and progressively more difficult, but the classes get smaller and more focused with only the smartest remaining by the end so they don't get distracted by the... dumb.

      Very very similar to what we have now, but at the same time very different, since the market wouldn't be flooded by 2:2 / 3rd level bachelor degrees, since they'd bet weeded out with the foundation or secondary degrees.

      Then again, I'm also in favour of more focused secondary school courses, getting rid of some of the 'general education' with focused options earlier in the course. And extending secondary school to last until 5pm, and a half day saturday. (with that extra time being used on their option)

    2. Mykilr

      It's probably the 4+ years it takes to do an Engineering Degree that tips the balance. If you want university graduates you need to incentive them to enter a process which involves borrowing quite a lot of money and doing a significate amount work that it takes to become a graduate, while forgoing those 4+ years of gainful employment.

  17. It wasnt me

    I appreciate some os his arguments, but hes also full of shit....

    ... He didnt invent the bladeless fan. He just hid a smaller fan with blades in the bottom of something about the same size and shape as a fan.

    And as for the bagless vacuum cleaner, its still just a vacuum cleaner. It has filters instead of bags. And the filters cost a shitload more than the bags did. So what he really did was apply the razor blade business model to the humble hoover, add some bright coloured plastic and charge us all a fuckload more. How is that better for me? Dyson should be held up as a marketing guru, not an engineer.

    1. Pypes

      Re: I appreciate some os his arguments, but hes also full of shit....

      The filters are washable, in mine anyway.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I appreciate some os his arguments, but hes also full of shit....

        > It has filters instead of bags.

        Bags do act as filters, but they also catch the larger particles of fluff, dog hair, lego blocks etc, a job which in cyclonic vacuum cleaners is done by the cyclone cylinder, not a filter. It is irritating to be using a vacuum cleaner with a bag and then have to stop because the bag is full and the cupboard is bare of spares.

        Henrys work well, with a large surface area of 'filter'. It does benefit from being able to take it outside and whack it, though.

    2. Wilseus
      Thumb Down

      The filters cost a shitload more than the bags did

      This hasn't been the case for many many years. The filters in mine (which are there mainly to protect to motor and not to actually collect the dirt) are hand washable in the sink. It's actually the cyclone which does the actual filtering of the dirt. Besides, even the oldest models can be retrofitted with the newer washable filters. My parents have done it with their ancient DC02.

      1. Wilseus

        Re: The filters cost a shitload more than the bags did

        I should add that they have the same DC02 that they bought in the mid 1990s and is still going strong...

  18. Irongut Silver badge

    Dyson has a point but perhaps it would have more of an impact if he still manufactured in the UK?

  19. harvy


    What is with the unicorn?

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