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. Alan Bourke

    Web fads and video games

    represent many billions of pounds in potential earnings.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Web fads and video games

      We don't know the context in which Dyson said "Web fads and video games".

      Video games do generate millions, though I'd associated the bigger players in the HD console age to be based up North (Rockstar, the late Studio Liverpool). I know a lecturer in Further Education whose college (not a million miles away from Malmsbury) has around a hundred places for video game development and they only expect a few percent to get a job in it- but hey, at least they don't show as unemployment statistics.

      Round here, we have Dyson, Renishaws, Rolls Royce, Airbus and associated suppliers. Hewlett Packard Labs Bristol, too, though I've never been able to work out what they do (some were messing around with Stratasys machines, some measuring the angular momentum of gas molecules with lasers).

      1. Eddie Edwards

        Re: Web fads and video games

        "I'd associated the bigger players in the HD console age to be based up North (Rockstar, the late Studio Liverpool)"

        My friends from Studio Liverpool will be impressed that you considered them a "big player", but Wipeout is hardly in the same league as GTA IV (think 100 times less revenue). Sure, there's a NW games industry, and Evolution in Runcorn deserve a mention, but it hardly outshines the rest of the country. Just on PS3 exclusive there's Media Molecule in Guildford, and Sony's London studio (far larger than Liverpool). Then there's Lionhead, also in Guildford. There's Braben's lot in Cambridge, there's still a large contingent around Leamington Spa, and I think Sega Racing is still going, just outside Birmingham. On middleware we have Geomerics in Cambridge and Havok - well we can't take credit for them since they're in Ireland. But I think RockStar North probably dwarfs the rest of the UK console games industry combined.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Web fads and video games

          Ta, that was a nice little outline.

          I guess that SL's (Psygnosis) WipEout punched a bigger dent in my conciousness than its weight would merit... I remember it marking the transition from video games having cute characters for kids to being something people played after a night on the disco-biscuits (and marketed as such, with music from FSOL and The Prodigy and interface design from The Designer's Republic, who did designs for Warp Records.

          I tried playing WipEout HD the other day on a mate's PS3, and obviously time has not been kind to my reflexes: It was frustrating and stressful (my fault, not the game's!) Fortunately, there was a game on its HD called 'Flower' where you play the part of a flower petal, softly drifting in the breeze bringing colour to gentle valleys. I think every console should have this game built-in, as an antidote to war games.

          1. Sloppy Crapmonster
            Happy

            Re: Web fads and video games

            My introduction to The Designer's Republic was the cover of Pop Will Eat Itself's "This Is The Day..." album, so when I saw that they also did some work on Wipeout I had to get it.

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Re: Web fads and video games

        Generate millions of revenue, what about profit?

        Like other creative industries they hate paying tax and have asked for tax breaks. That's not really contributing is it?

      3. squigbobble

        Re: Web fads and video games

        "Round here, we have Dyson, Renishaws, Rolls Royce, Airbus and associated suppliers." Rolls Royce is round here as well; their sites were deliberately scattered around the country so the Nazis couldn't blow up all their aero engine manufacturing capacity in one swoop. Barnoldswick and Derby are the only ones I can remember off the top of my head and there'll be other sites that've closed down since WW2.

    2. John Lilburne

      Re: Web fads and video games

      Stuff and nonsense, well at least as far as the 'web fads' is concerned. These do not generate any socially useful earnings, if anything they displace earnings from elsewhere. They operate in some ax avoidance crevice between jurisdictions, and are mostly profiting from the creative endeavours of others.

      The companies behind them are more akin to flesh eating bacteria. Which come to think about it should be quite attractive to Tories.

      1. Derezed
        Meh

        Re: Web fads and video games

        With you until the specious Tory remark.

      2. Some Beggar
        WTF?

        Re: Web fads and video games

        @John Lilburne

        What does "socially useful earnings" even mean?

        The "Digital, Creative & Information Services" sector generated 4.5% of GVA in 2012 and accounted for 3.7% of employment. That makes it roughly three times larger than the medium/high tech equipment manufacturing sector that Dyson would fall under if he didn't manufacture abroad, and fifteen times larger than the R&D sector that his UK-based business actually falls under. It is also growing considerably faster.

        You can scoff at whether the Twitter Angry Birdbook sector provides any real benefit to mankind, but the figures suggest that it is an important part of the UK economy and something that any sensible government ought to be promoting.

        1. Captain Underpants

          Re: Web fads and video games

          @Some Beggar

          Well said. It's generally frustrating to read the sorts of comments attributed here to Dyson when they come from people whose manufacturing work happens elsewhere.

          What he seems to be doing is throwing a strop that his company isn't being given special treatment as The Template For Britain's Future. And, well, I suspect part of that is because he's shown that he's willing to move production elsewhere to save money - not the wisest template for UK.gov to follow for trying to grow the economy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Web fads and video games@Captain Underpants

            You might want to give Dyson some credit, that he did try to make them in the UK, but the costs were too high. Sadly government would rather p*ss £50m on a scabby bit of east London, rather than fix the bits they can (like their 14% tax on employment, or the broken property market that inflates wage).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Web fads and video games@Captain Underpants

              Numatic in Chard ar able to nail together a perfectly functioning, reliable vacuum cleaner for £100 retail.

              Your saying that Dyson vacs, which are premium priced at £200+, can't make UK production pay?

              I'd never have a Dyson anyway. If I'm spending £200+ on a vac cleaner, I expect it to be absolutely trouble free for 5+ years. The Dyson my folks bought spent more time being fixed than being used.

              1. rh587 Silver badge

                Re: Web fads and video games@Captain Underpants

                We had a big Dyson fan in the office to replace a tower fan in the corner. Went back after one day. They work, but to get any sensible airflow you have to wind them up, at which point the tiny fan in the base takes on the acoustic characteristics of a small jet engine. We got another generic, conventional fan for 25% the price of the dyson which was capable scattering papers across the office with narry a whisper.

                The desktop versions might work better, but all in all a nice idea badly implemented, just like most of his other ideas.

              2. Fai

                Re: Web fads and video games@Captain Underpants

                One bad Dyson does not mean all of them are bad.

                We've had the DC02 for 15 years! It does the same job as when it was brought in the 20th century, and although some of the springs (cable rewind seems to be a common issue - other working DC02s I've seen suffered the same issue) and cover latches are a little loose, it still works. For a first generation mass-produced product (not counting the Japanese version), it's a good demonstration of British engineering.

                Not to discount the Numatics - the Henry we had for industrial use just works solidly day after day - and the outward design hasn't changed in decades, though I'm sure the internals have had steady improvements over the years.

                1. rhydian

                  Re: Web fads and video games@Captain Underpants

                  We had a first gen DC02 which was woefully unreliable when you take its cost in to account. Cable return, power switch and many other parts failed on it, while my old man struggled to keep it going, not to mention the noise which was akin to a jet aircraft at takeoff.

                  When that finished we got a Numatic, which simply worked, even after my mother managed to set fire to it (cleaning around a wood burner and a hot ember lodged in the filter, lots of smoke but was fine after). In the end the motor bearings got noisy and my mum bought a "Hoover"...

                  Only it was a PRC made "fake cyclone" POS which had less power than an asthmatic snail. In the end a new autosave Henry (with switchable 600/1200W modes) replaced it and it's great. And you can buy every part (down to motor brushes) online.

          2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Web fads and video games

            > he's willing to move production elsewhere to save money - not the wisest template for UK.gov to follow for trying to grow the economy.

            It's exactly the wisest template.

            R&D and engineering here, cheap ,mass production in SE Asia.

            ARM doesn't manufacture anything but that doesn't mean it's better to fund some screwdriver plant that puts made in UK badges on TVs until the subsidy runs out.

            1. Captain Underpants

              Re: Web fads and video games

              @Yet Another Anonymous coward

              The problem with what you're suggesting is that it's very far from being even remotely sustainable.

              In the UK, the higher education sector is trying very hard to ensure that foreign students continue to come here to study - students want to come here for the quality (or at least perception thereof) of education offered, the universities want them because non-EU students pay exorbitant rates compared to everyone else (between £16K and £35K depending on circumstances, which is exorbitant here but kind of unsurprising in the US). Unless there are more design/R&D jobs in the UK than can be filled by UK graduates in the relevant disciplines, this means that the UK higher education sector is a net exporter of graduates in those disciplines.

              Over time, this means that the R&D/design work gets farmed out to people outside the UK as well because if your work has no physical aspect to it, you can work remotely with nary a problem - and that means they can hire someone from whatever country has the lowest costs at the time with no difficulty.

              Compared to moving physical production and fabbing work, moving "knowledge work" is trivial. So tethering your entire government approach to economic development to non-physical-product creative industries who will see a clear economic incentive to move elsewhere as soon as they get a chance is not, IMO, a long-term approach.

              The counter-argument is that it doesn't need to be a long term approach as long as it can help foment growth for a while, at which point I suppose we'd need hard facts and numbers before we could draw any conclusions.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Web fads and video games

          It means it is highly skilled work and therefore no good to reduce the general unemployment rate. You can't take someone who used to work as a machine tool maker and retrain them to code games.

          1. Rob Beard

            Re: Web fads and video games

            Why not exactly?

            Malcolm Evans went from being an electronics engineer to a games programmer, and I'm sure another programmer from the 80's went from working as a TV repair man to making games (was it Jon Ritman?).

            Just because someone works as a tool maker doesn't mean they can't re-train. Of course they might not want to.

            Rob

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Unhappy

          Re: Web fads and video games@Some Beggar

          "The "Digital, Creative & Information Services" sector generated 4.5% of GVA in 2012 "

          But of that, I doubt that more than 0.1% was games and frippery. Most of it will have been bog standard IT work - Northgate IS, HP's UK services, Crapita, etc.

          And the problem is that our shallow, inept government are pushing that (guessed) 0.1%, not even the remaining 4.4%. There's a governmental obsession with pushing "higher value" jobs, which invariably ignores the need for a balanced economy. The millions of people currently unemployed, generally speaking, aren't looking for jobs in Shoreditch as top games designers, or technical architecture directors. Instead, they want mid market white or blue collar jobs, or they are after basic clerical or manual roles, and other than the job creation scheme of the Civil Service and local government, there's nothing done for these people.

          1. Some Beggar

            Re: Web fads and video games@Some Beggar

            @Ledswinger

            See ... now I want a job title with "frippery" in it. Do I have to move to Shoreditch?

            You're very probably right. The paper I was looking at doesn't have the breakdown but the total was ~£60 billion and "frippery" can only be a small fraction of that. I made another post somewhere else about the dubious reasons that they were concentrating specifically on Silicon Roundabout and pretty meedja tech.

        4. John Lilburne

          Re: Web fads and video games

          Dyson, like many in the engineering field, straddle both the manufacturing and IP sectors. The fact remains that physical products are not only manufactured, but they are also designed, and the tooling to manufacture the parts is also designed. People may decry the loss of UK manufacturing, but last year we had record sales of design and manufacturing software into UK engineering.

        5. Flatpackhamster

          Re: Web fads and video games

          By "socially useful", he means "projects that further the proletarian revolution". At least I assume so, because the rest of his post sounded like an episode of Citizen Smith.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Web fads and video games

      But ultimately employ very few people. If you're not making physical products then you're not employing many people. ARM employs 2,368 people, Intel employs 100,000.

  2. NomNomNom

    I think Dyson is just spinning like mad in an effort to suck up more funding

  3. sad_loser
    Thumb Up

    That's totally Jackson

    They need more funding otherwise what will happen to all the self facilitating media nodes?

  4. The BigYin
    FAIL

    Hypocrite

    "British knowledge is simply taken abroad."

    Dyson products are made where, exactly? Clue: it's not in the UK.

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: Hypocrite

      True up to a point. That Dysons are made abroad does not stop Silicon Roundabout being bullshit.

      1. streaky Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Hypocrite

        "That Dysons are made abroad does not stop Silicon Roundabout being bullshit"

        The Silicon Roundabout is bullshit because there were loads of tech companies there long before the Libdemtards elected the Tories, not because it's implicitly bullshit. There's some serious cash and real companies floating around in between all the appstore entrants.

        Thing about Dyson is he seems to be arguing for people to be on wage competition with Chinese people with everything he does and says. As a well qualified and experienced mechanical engineer to now writes software (for a company right next to the Shoreditch faddy app-about), on behalf of all of us: please shut the f**k up and hand back your KBE you clueless t**t.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Hypocrite

      >Dyson products are made where, exactly? Clue: it's not in the UK.

      No, but after they moved production to Malaysia, they employed more people than they had in the UK, only in higher-paying R&D jobs. Clue: Dyson can't get his hands on enough engineers.

      1. AdamT

        Re: Hypocrite

        there needs to be a distinction between designed, manufacture and assembled. As Dave 126 says, the (very) low paid grunt work got off-shored but the high(er) paid design work, etc. stayed in the UK and grew.

        Also, FWIW, Dyson does put his money where his mouth is, when talking about the UK. According to this indie article (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-billionaires-who-do-pay-their-bills-including-james-dyson-and-jk-rowling-7873607.html) he makes no effort to be "tax efficient" and in 2006 at least, was responsible for paying more than half of the tax revenue contributed by the 54 billionaires in the UK at that time. Similarly his company pays most of it's tax in the UK too.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: Hypocrite

          Thank you, I didn't know he was paying a "moral" tax level. I assumed, like all other large companies notionally based in the UK, he was engaging in tax efficiency.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Dave 126

        Well I worked for Dyson as an engineer until the end of 2008, when they decided that they didn't want so many engineers and technicians in the UK. The rolls were transfered to Malaysia, and approx half the engineers were made redundant. At the time, designs were also being done by engineers in India and China.

    3. John Lilburne

      Re: Hypocrite

      We don't fabricate stuff here that much any more. Mostly what we do is design stuff, and design the tooling (dies, moulds, patterns) to make the stuff. Our economy has moved more into IP in its wider contexts and those so employed earn 60% more on average than those outside of the IP sectors. However that won't last forever and the emerging economies will soon become self sufficient in designers and engineers. India produces over 20 million graduates a year and they aren't going to be settling for call centre jobs for long. In fact from our sales of design and manufacture software into places like India and China it won't be long before a lot of that work is done there as well.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Hypocrite

        >emerging economies will soon become self sufficient in designers and engineers.

        Very true. We've held on to the design jobs because we are the market for those goods. Now that China is trying to sustain its economy by turning its own citizens into a consumers, we will lose that edge. That said, I can't think of any Chinese companies that trade on their industrial design... even Japanese products are mainly sold as being functional.

        Ridiculous: When I was at college around 2000, we were advised to learn German, Hebrew or Japanese... because these countries were the only ones to produce high tolerance tooling for injection moulding. Any industrial designer now should be learning Mandarin.

        Of course Dyson isn't responsible for wages being lower in the East. The even bigger question should be "Why is our economy based on limitless growth when we only have finite resources?" The first industrial designers were stage-designers recruited from Broadway... at the time that people first became 'consumers'. Prior to that, things just looked like what they were, and you only bought what you needed (unless you were wealthy and could commission an artisan). To pick on Dyson again:

        "Why are they still in business? Surely everybody already has a vacuum cleaner!"

        (Mine's a Henry... or a Karcher if it's been raining too heavily)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hypocrite

        @John Liburne - We manufacture quite a lot here, it's a bit of a myth that we don't. Currently the UK makes more cars that it did in the 1970s/80s when most people here drove British cars. The only difference is that the cars are now seen to be Japanese or German, they're still British, though.

      3. Tom 13

        Re: don't fabricate stuff here that much any more. Mostly what we do is design stuff,

        As it has ever been with England. It might be a bit beyond your reckoning, but 200+ years ago, one of the undercurrents of revolution were fed by similar realities: England didn't grow much stuff, but it imported and processed much of it and made it difficult or illegal for its colonies to do likewise. You keep the high value work and farm out the low value work. It is the way of the world. Possibly because there are locations for which the "low value work" pays a rich man's wages in comparison to his country-mates.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hypocrite

      He's talking about design and engineering, not manufacturing processes.

      It's people like you who assume that a CD costs pence to make and therefore everything else is pure profit.

  5. Pete 2

    Supply and demand

    > a serious lack of engineering graduates in the country. He claimed there would be a shortfall of around 60,000 people this year

    Oh goody! That level of scarcity, if it REALLY does exist, means that engineering salaries will rise massively in order to attract people into the industry.

    What's that I hear you say, Sooty? Engineering salaries are as low as they've always been and graduate engineers can't get jobs? Maybe there isn't a shortage of engineers at all. Maybe the only problem is that people like Dyson (who, given the quality of some of his products - not known as "Die soon"'s for nothing) simply aren't willing to pay the going rate and just want 60,000 CHEAP engineers, rather that well trained ones.

    1. A Twig

      Re: Supply and demand

      Spot on - I've registered just to make this comment. I graduated with an MEng 3 years ago now.

      There are still 20-30% of my fellow graduates struggling to find engineering jobs, all with >2:2 MEng from a top 5 UK institution.

      There's no shortage of good engineers. What there is a shortage of is companies willing to employ graduate engineers rather than trying to find someone who has done it all before. My current employer (an engineering firm ) had an average age in the high 40s until they recently introduced a new HR policy to hire more graduates.

      That was how I got the job I'm in now, otherwise I'd still be on shitty zero hour contract jobs / security work / anything else I could get.

      I'm also paid the least out of all my mates who did other courses (BBA, Coach Ed). The best paid of the guys from my course now work in the City in Finance, using approximately zero of the course we all slogged away at for 4/5 years...

      Incidentally Dyson didn't even reply to my or any of my friends job applications when they were advertising in 2011.

      Says it all really.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Supply and demand

        Should have done a proper subject like media studies mate

        1. pPPPP

          Re: Supply and demand

          I got my MEng 15 years ago. I was a silicon designer for a few years and then realised that there was sod all career progression. Yes, you could become a senior engineer, "distinguished" or whatever the hell they want to call it. You won't earn much more though.

          I moved into the IT side of things, and while I still earn less than half of those I know who went into the financial industry, I earn a hell of a lot more than I would have if I'd stuck with engineering. I enjoyed doing it, and still would if I was now, but I'd rather live comfortably.

          1. Rocket_Rabbit
            Thumb Up

            Re: Supply and demand

            Sounds very similar to me. I did my first degree in Aeronautical engineering whilst working for a large European Civil Aviation company. I enjoyed the job, but the pay was only ever going to be mediocre (Unless you got to Exec level which was impossible unless you liked playing Golf with various senior Execs). So I went back to Uni in 2003 and did a BEng in Computer Systems. I'm certainly not on crazy money, but enough to afford a house, a car and a few hobbies. I have far more prospects than my Aero engineering days anyway!!

    2. David Hicks
      Linux

      Re: Supply and demand

      This is similarly true in software - while there are companies crying out for staff, compared to the international scenario the pay for software folks in the UK (even in London) is frakking awful when compared to the US, Australia and other western nations. Maybe we do need more STEM grads, but unless the money's there at the other end why bother?

      The only way I can get close to what I was earning in 'stralia is by contracting.

  6. Lloyd
    Thumb Up

    Silicon Roundabout is great

    It keeps all of the media luvvies in one place which means it's very easy to avoid, especially when job hunting.

    1. Efros

      Re: Silicon Roundabout is great

      Or come the revolution!

  7. AdamT

    don't forget the 26%

    They could also work on getting those 26% back into engineering. I'd actually quite like to do that (I only got lured away when the engineering company I worked for went bankrupt - so I do actually have some experience as well as the paper qualifications) but the salaries do need to get a little more realistic. I'm not suggesting parity with e.g. the finance industry (to pick a totaly random - honest! - example of where someone might get lured to) but for practical/personal/family reasons many people just can't take the kind of salary cut or relocation that would be likely. Would also need employers/recruitment agents to be more flexible with people who can't tick all the boxes for "must have 5 years experience with x,y and z". Perhaps Sir JD should set up some kind of agency to do that ...

  8. R69

    how ironic

    This from the guy that was once touted as the saviour of British Engineering and then quietly offshored his manufacturing to Malaysia or the far east somewhere if i remember correctly...

    Now thats what I call sticking up for Britain.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: how ironic

      That argument has been debunked above, but in addition - often manufacturing abroad means companies stay afloat when often they would have died a slow painful death at the hands of overseas competitors. And even if it wasn't necessary to stay afloat, the extra money can be ploughed back enabling the employment of higher paid higher level staff - as happened with Dyson. It won't have happened in every case of course, but Dyson does not deserve your ire on this one.

  9. BCS

    British knowledge is simply taken abroad

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

  10. 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.

  11. Some Beggar
    Meh

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

    More news at 10.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    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 http://www.careers.dyson.com/jobs 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:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14556246

    2. NogginTheNog
      WTF?

      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.

  13. 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 Silver badge

      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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Stacy
    Unhappy

    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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    e.g. http://targetjobs.co.uk/news/291153-aldi-expands-graduate-scheme-as-it-creates-3000-new-jobs

    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
        Facepalm

        But

        Silicon Sall is the girl for me...

  21. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Windows

    When

    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
        Windows

        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.

  22. Pypes
    Stop

    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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. It wasnt me
    Unhappy

    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...

  26. Irongut

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

  27. harvy
    WTF?

    Unicorn

    What is with the unicorn?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge
    2. Timfy67

      Re: Unicorn

      It proves that Dyson is a replicant...

  28. HBT

    We have a more fundamental problem to address

    - getting the professional classes to breed more, and the professional benefit cheats to breed less.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: We have a more fundamental problem to address

      Okay, eugenics aside:

      Its the same issue- we no longer have the high quantity of agricultural or industrial jobs that traditionally employed the low-skilled. Some people will never be too bright- not their fault, doesn't make them bad people with no feelings- but the bell curve on this issue is something that no politician can point out ("Never call the electorate stupid!"). Instead, New Labour had this strange idea that everyone could be educated into intelligence (it doesn't work that way) and play a part in 'a knowledge economy'.

      Rather than just addressing the incentive for the benefits system gives for having more children, we do need to look at why smart women have fewer children- or even leave it too late to have any. The French model is that women tend to have children in their early twenties before embarking on a career- in Britain, women try to reach some threshold level of career advancement before taking a break, and then struggle to get back into it. Economically, I can't work out why childcare is so expensive- surely four women can look after two children as well as one-on-one... I mean, everybody needs to take a toilet break from to time.

      Ultimately, designing new vacuum cleaners (or cars, or microwave ovens) to sell to people who already have vacuum cleaners isn't sustainable either.

      Bertrand Russell- "The case for a leisure society"

    2. Captain Underpants

      Re: We have a more fundamental problem to address

      @HBT

      You've got some reliable documented numbers concerning the relative population of professional benefit cheats, have you?

      I'm sure HMRC would be fascinated and grateful to receive them along with the research methodology you used to obtain them - pass them along and we'll all benefit.

      Oh, what you mean is you're talking hand-wavey generalities and throwing some class-warfare-garbed eugenics-type rubbish in there for good measure?

      That's a shame.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think the man means to say that engineers create employment for the great unwashed masses.

    This held true in the past : innovation reated by engineers and the people investing in their ideas led to the development of an industrial base that supplied jobs for the lower educated bulk of the population.

    And this is exatly where a country's wealth originates : it's ability to supply a consistent income to the great majority of it's workforce.

    Today, however, the cost of unskilled and lower skilled labor is considered to be too high and putting to heavy a burden on the profit margins. So this level of employment is outsourced.

    This unfortunately leads to a general degradation of living standards : the local unskilled workforce does no longer have the disposable income to buy the products made in their country and is relegated to buying low cost imported goods, leading to more loss of employment in their own country, and the offshore workforce does not make enough money to buy the products they make, thus currency is extracted from the home country already under pressure, but not returned to said country by means of consumer purchases. Result : the economy fails.

    So, I'm all for more engineers, more innovation and more highly skilled labour. But only if it results in a growth of living standards for everyone so people can actually spend money on it.

  30. Dave Robinson

    Not a sucker

    Following two Dyson suckers that didn't work all that well, made a lot of noise, and then packed up, I bought a Miele vacuum cleaner. OK, so I have to buy bags occasionally, but at least I don't have to buy a new cleaner every couple of years. And his fan apparently whines a lot.

    But he's totally right about the roundabout.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I work for a consulting engineering company and haven't had a pay rise in 3, or is it 4, years. Apparently our staff hourly charge out rates are lower than they were 10 years ago. There is no career progression, and I have become cynical. I have now resolved to study a course in insurance that I really should have done before now.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    engineering

    As a graduate mechanical engineer who worked in Germany in the past and had been in IT for most of my working life, it's fairly clear what the problem is. And it's not the web or video games (though silicon roundabout seems more about helping trendy posh kids than real companies).

    The problem is banking. It creates zero wealth, it just moves it around, and yet the pay is absurd.

    I read an article on the Beeb last night about Iceland's hard road to recovery from the financial meltdown. They let the banks go bust, but one result of this was that suddenly engineering and technology companies were the top destinations for numerate graduates.

    Their economy will be far better for having creative intelligent people working designing and making things instead of conniving schemes to move money around in ever more imaginative and deceitful ways. Sadly Britain is just picking everyone's pocket to ensure the bankers can have their bonuses instead of letting the bankrupt banks go bust.

  33. SirDigalot

    University could be worse

    I admit it is totally different to when I was back in school, and it is a bit of a bugger that they have decided to shaft future generations, however, compared to the cost of the same course in an American college, I think it is quite a good deal, yes, you earn less than a store clerk after graduating, but then again, you have just graduated, your head is full of stuff that needs to be taught how to be applied practically, for most intents and purposes, although smart you are as practical as a tin of sardines at a bus stop. However after a short time on the job, it will all be worthwhile, and after about a decade, you should be earning more than the store clerk (who is not department head or maybe a manager (gawd bless em). They are at the peak of their career, and you still have a lot of potential.

    Now the crux is that in the U.K. at least (and I will say many parts of the US) there is little enough respect for engineers, yes a few are highly paid, but, they can be seen as a loss leader, or necessary evil. (though moving to the US from the UK with a decent degree you stand to make a metric crap-ton more money than if you stayed there, which I guess is what Dyson is saying.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While I agree with the general idea of more people getting into engineering and driving forward innovation - etc - if he is so interested why doesn't he put his billions of pounds to good use, build an academy and fuel R&D start ups... I mean that's the whole point of capitalism.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      He tried:

      http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/james-dysons-bath-academy-scrapped/1892461.article

  35. Peter Christy

    Money? Status?

    I wonder how much Mr Dyson pays his engineers? Most engineering jobs in the UK pay a pittance, and the job has all the status of an oily rag found on the floor!

    No wonder all the bright ones leave as soon as possible....! (Or else take up Law, accountancy, politics - you know, all those jobs that serve to prevent people doing anything useful.....!)

    Pete

  36. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    And there I was expecting something innovative like a proposal for a hybrid degree/apprenticeship program in which successful firms with tangible products lead the way into the rediscovery of hands-on learning at the direction of them wot can.

    But all I got was the same ole rant, probably provoked by something to do with tax laws more than genuine despair at the educational system.

    Oh well.

    And for all that the innovative vacuum cleaner never looses suction, it don't clean all that well from my experience and those plassy bits break awfully easily. More R&D needed.

  37. peter collard

    How much does Sir James pay HIS engineers?

    I wonder how much Dysons engineers get paid? At most engineering companies the finance department are much better paid than the engineers. Perhaps Sir James should show us how fantastically well his engineers are paid - that would encourage students to take engineering seriously

  38. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Buying into Success is a Prime IP Hunt

    Perhaps Mr Dyson would like to fund and take a run in a Silicon Roundabout start-up, to savour and better understand the attractions so freely available.

    In the right start-up, on the correct project on a securely plotted course, will revelations be explosive.

    Care to venture seven sevens as a gift starter for the capture of capital and transfer of all wealth to SMARTR Virtual Machine Control?

    Go on, give me a hard time explaining to a bank manager why overnight there is credited a not inconsequential and even considerable sum of flash stash for spending as cash, to a formerly virtually empty account. :-)

    You know we would enjoy its problems and inquiries.

    Now that is the sort of thing the Silicon Roundabout is all about, is it not?

  39. James Gosling

    Silicon Roundabout

    In America they have Silicon Valley, we have a Silicon Roundabout in London! Boy do we think big!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Silicon Roundabout

      We used to have a Silicon Glen in Scotland.

      I think we still have a Silicon Fen in Cambridgeshire...

  40. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Flame

    My 2p worth

    When our lad was choosing his GCSEs in 2009, we had an open evening at school, where local Universities turned up to encourage pupils to think about choices that would lead to higher education.

    One particularly odious character told us of a recent graduate who worked as a "political economist" for a US bank, earning over £40,000 a year (in the US) . He really didn't like me very much, when I put my hand up, and asked if he could give us an example of a graduate who (a) was helping the UK economy and (b) was doing something useful - like medicine, or engineering AND earning £40,000.

  41. Mark Pawelek

    Follow the Money

    The problem isn't limited to government.

    As Josh Lerner wrote recently [see footnotes], more and more venture capital funding is being channeled into IT (social networks, etc) because they can get their capital back within 8-10 years. 4-5 years funding followed by another 4-5 years selling off the business.

    Many other business areas [especially hard tech for export] don't all such precise and time limited investments. Venture capital funding for cleantech has bought no rewards (losses if anything). IT/Internet has been the consistent payer for them.

    This government takes it's lead from business. It may not seem like it to you (working in IT) that there's a boom going on but, relatively speaking, there is. When it stops there will be little investment in the West in anything. I don't see it getting better.

    Josh Lerner, The Narrowing Ambitions of Venture Capital, MIT Technology Review <http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429024/the-narrowing-ambitions-of-venture-capital/>

    Josh Lerner, The Architecture of Innovation, Harvard Business Review Press

  42. Dropper

    I left

    22K in the UK.. 37K in the US.. no decent curries tho..

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "IT/Internet has been the consistent payer for [venture capitalists]"

    You reckon they've not noticed the FaceBook IPO yet then?

  44. Jim Wilkinson
    Thumb Down

    British knowledge is simply taken abroad

    As a chartered engineer who did R&D in the UK for a well known Japanese company for over 25 years, I know the point well. My experience is that we do R&D and creative engineering very well in the UK. What we do not do so well is passing that R&D to qualified production engineers who then turn R&D into great and reliable products. There are probably many exceptions, but the UK has lost the culture of developing people who have the skills to make advanced and reliable products that just work. It's this culture you find in the far East - methodical, thorough, detailed engineering that turns good engineering ideas into the reliable products that people want.

    The longer term issue is that once the rot sets in, we start to lose the know-how and no-one wants to do engineering any more because it's seen as a dead-end. Gross oversimplification, but then I don't see many youngsters getting involved in engineering these days. Oh - and how many engineers are on the boards of UK companies? Thought so... mostly accountants and lawyers. We're all doomed :(

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I understand his pain. I am in Swindon too :D

  46. Sirius Lee

    Absolutely spot on Sir James, but just a minute...

    Dyson's comments are largely correct. There is no prospect that web anything will make a reasonable return based in Britain. Anything that is created here will be snapped up in its formative stages by a Facebook, Google or Microsoft making the creators a bit of cash but making no impact on GDP here in the UK.

    Where are our Googles, Oracles, Microsofts, Facebooks? They don't exist. They don't exist because there's no investment from funding companies in the UK. There's no investment by funding companies because there's no intellectual property protection in the UK. Many, many commenters here will assert that IP protection for software is not justified and I respect that position. But as an investor I can assure you that without protection, there's no investment and, so, no meaningful revenue generated for UK plc. Instead the ideas which do emerge here are snapped up early by largely US interests where, if they flourish, they will contribute to the US economy.

    But don't take my word for it, do the analysis yourself. Consider the few software companies that do exist such as Sage, Misys, etc. and then consider whether their products satisfy a peculiarity of the UK (accounting, law, government systems, etc) or are vendors of more general applications. Most that have anything to do with software are consultancies because selling time is more reliable.

    It's not just the UK. This pattern is repeated across Europe for much the same reason. Sure there are vendors meeting local needs or national government favours but beyond SAP are there many independent software companies able to survive internationally?

    It's ironic, then, that the home of the intellectual property free zone does not provide much by way of free software. Think of the big open source project (such as apache, linux, open office, android, xen, wikipedia) and consider who are fostering these important projects. Is it some philanthropy in Europe to show how an IP free zone can thrive? No. They are mentored in the US. Sure, Europeans (and people from every other continent) contribute but without the the ability to channel cash to these projects, very often cash from US investors in IP, these projects would fold.

    So in Britain IT is almost exclusively 'data processing'. Data processing is important but is a commodity which has long since be shipped off-shore. Instead of generating cash for UK plc it sucks cash and knowledge out of the country. Even where there are IT successes such as ARM (this is a hardware business with does benefit from IP protection) the manufacturing and selling of product and revenue and jobs which accrue from those endeavours are sub-licensed to companies in other countries.

    So Dyson is right. In the current framework the government should focus more on manufacturing. However, Sir James, for me your words would have more force if I knew for sure all your manufacturing (and jobs) is here not abroad as I believe at least some of is.

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