British inventor Sir James Dyson has criticised the UK government for putting “the glamour of web fads and video gaming” ahead of “tangible technology that we can export,” echoing comments he made at the opening of the Royal College of Art (RCA) Dyson Building in September.
In an interview with the Radio Times, Dyson said that the government needs to do more to attract the brightest students to engineering and science, claiming that there will be a deficit of 60,000 engineering graduates this year.
“Eighty five percent of all engineering and science postgraduates in our universities come from outside the UK, yet nine in 10 leave the UK after they finish their studies. British knowledge is simply taken abroad,” he said.
"Engineering postgraduates need to be encouraged with generous salaries. A salary of £7,000 a year for postgraduate research is insulting.”
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has responded to Dyson's criticism, claiming that 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,” ir said.
“We have committed £3m to create up to 500 additional aeronautical engineers at masters level over the next three years, co-funded with industry.”
Dyson's comments follow Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement of a new £50 million project to regenerate Old Street roundabout and turn it into “Europe’s largest indoor civic space” for start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Old Street roundabout in the heart of East London is often referred to as “Silicon Roundabout,” due to the large number of technology start-ups in the area (over 1,300), though the government prefers the label “Tech City”.
According to the government's Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), the new civic building will include a 400-seat auditorium, classrooms, co-working spaces and workshops equipped with the latest 3D printing technology, for use by both the local start-ups and the wider community.
It will have the capacity to train 10,000 students in coding and enterprise through programmes such as Coder Camp, TeenTech and Computer Science for Fun, and will also run 500 peer-to-peer education sessions for advanced skills development per year.