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Dyson Warns Government Over UK Manufacturing

(c) Sky News 2013

The Government must do more to protect the future of manufacturing in Britain, inventor Sir James Dyson has warned.

The entrepreneur, who is famous for inventing the bagless Dyson vacuum cleaner, said Britain will have a deficit of 60,000 engineering graduates this year.

Too much emphasis has been placed on "the glamour of web fads and video gaming" over "tangible technology that we can export", he argued.

The 65-year-old's comments come despite Dyson's decision around 10 years ago to move production to Malaysia, with the loss of 550 jobs.

He said: "The Government must do more to attract the brightest and best into engineering and science so that we can compete internationally. 26% of engineering graduates do not go into engineering or technical professions.

"More worrying is that 85% of all engineering and science postgraduates in our universities come from outside the UK."

Speaking to the Radio Times magazine, he said: "Yet nine in 10 leave the UK after they finish their studies. British knowledge is simply taken abroad.

"Engineering (Milan: ENG.MI - news) postgraduates need to be encouraged with generous salaries. A salary of £7,000 a year for postgraduate research is insulting."

Asked to reconcile his remarks with Dyson's decision to shift manufacturing jobs abroad, he told Sky News all the firm's machines were still conceived and developed at its research and development headquarters in Wiltshire.

"We have more scientists and engineers there than ever before, over 750 Dyson scientists and engineers developing technology for the next 25 years," he said.

"Last year, another 220 engineers joined the team, a third of them graduates. But we need more. Dyson is expanding, new markets and new machines. 

"Our future technology depends on nurturing bright minds to develop technology for export, but there is a shortage of engineers in the UK. To help businesses the Government needs to encourage more students into engineering subjects.

"Businesses full of bright minds can then develop patented technology for export."

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "Engineering graduates go into a range of sectors, including financial services and retail as well as manufacturing.

"We are working closely with industry and continue to look at various ways to support engineering at all levels, including engagement in schools, apprenticeships and postgraduate training.

"Applications for engineering courses at university have held up this year."