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Dyson frets over glamour of games

Feels development is attracting graduates away from engineering

Sir James Dyson, the vacuum cleaner magnate, has shared his concerns that technology graduates are being lured away from engineering and into careers in games.

"The glamour of web fads and video gaming" was being put ahead of "tangible technology that we can export," he said in a recent interview with the Radio Times, published by the BBC.

He wants the government to help make engineering careers more attractive, with better salaries for post-graduates.

"The government must do more to attract the brightest and best into engineering and science so that we can compete internationally," he continued.

"26 per cent of engineering graduates do not go into engineering or technical professions. More worrying is that 85 per cent of all engineering and science postgraduates in our universities come from outside the UK."

He believes the country is looking at a deficit of around 60,000 engineering graduates this year.

The British inventor is best known for his range of bagless vacuums, and has also found success with the Dyson Airblade hand dryer and the Air Multiplier fan. He is believed to be worth around 1.45 billion.

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Latest comments (25)

Andrew Animator 3 years ago
....glamorous?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 10th January 2013 9:32am

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It's sad when someone of Dyson's stature fails to understand the positive impact the games industry has on the UK's economy. Games might look glamorous to anyone who hasn't made one but it's hardly encouraging to tell potential engineers that his industry is definitely not glamorous. It's also wrong! As an F1 fan, I know that the UK has some of the most glamorous & world-beating engineering companies in the world.
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miguided statement/thoughts from Dyson at best
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Show all comments (25)
Rob Jessop R&D Programmer, Crytek3 years ago
Many of us export not only our games, but the technology we use to make them. I'm not sure why he's so hung up on tangibility.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters3 years ago
I wonder which is more appealing, developing the games you love, or designing a new vacuum cleaner. It's a tough one, that.
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
I completely disagree. Thank you and goodnight!
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 3 years ago
Idiot.
HIs vacuum cleaners aren't even made in this country any more.
And the UK games industry achieves at least 80% export earnings.
And I bet he wishes he owned "fad" companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook etc
Idiot.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters3 years ago
I don't understand his point, either. Does he want the internet to just... go away? There's no point moaning about something, you might as well do something about it, like offer graduates more money, or other benefits. Make it appeal. There's no point crying to the government about an industry which has only just succeeded in getting support from them itself after years of trying.
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Sam Brown Programmer, Cool Games Ltd.3 years ago
I always think of Dyson as the Apple of the home appliance world. Overpriced, but stylish. :)
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The difference between Dyson and Apple, in my experience, is that Dyson products are actually way better(if still a bit overpriced maybe) than their cheaper competitors ;3
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.3 years ago
Does the UK government really have the authority to raise salaries for a specific private sector career field?

And does that mean he would be ok reducing his corporate profits by paying their engineers more money? And if so, why doesn't he just up he salary himself rather than asking the government to mandate it?
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Emily Knox Associate Designer, CCP Games3 years ago
Surely a loss of engineering graduates going abroad / the number of people pursuing are career in games are two completely separate issues that do not encompass the same group of people? (As in, by the time you've finished 3-4 years of studying you've probably already decided what you want to do, and hopefully have a degree in the area you will pursue)
Graduates will go where the jobs are, I struggle to believe that we have a shortage of graduate engineering work in the UK due to the so-called "glamour" appeal of games development.
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Alex Wright-Manning Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Datascope3 years ago
He's only complaining because game devs don't do a lot of vacuuming.... ;)
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development3 years ago
>> " I'm not sure why he's so hung up on tangibility. "

Because he makes vacuum cleaners.
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Ill make hoovers if the money is right, but I'm not moving to China.
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Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto3 years ago
Aside from the fact that the games industry contributes to the economy, it's short sighted to assume that game development doesn't have a tangible effect on other technical fields. Graphics processing units are used for number crunching in science and other fields outside of games, technology that likely wouldn't be as mature as it is now, if not for the demand coming from the games industry.

Similarly, algorithms developed for games can often find uses in other fields.

And experienced game programmers in the games industry often move on into other programming fields, having developed strong C++ skills, low level programming knowledge, and experience of working in high-performance software, something that most people don't graduate with and that a lot of software developers never learn. My understanding is that ex-game programmers are sought after in the financial industry for example, where writing efficient software that can make financial transactions with very low latency can save a company a lot of money.
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Robert Aiking Product Manager, InnoGames3 years ago
To be fair, I'd say a fair portion of the students are indeed being lured in by "glamour": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU4WtOeQyn4
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games3 years ago
well, truth is he has some great products there, and i feel sorry that fancy fans and vacuum cleaners are not as glamorous as gaming! :)
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 3 years ago
So, pretty much his complaint is that companies like his have reduced the local demand for a particular job sector and then he complains when students, at an age they are ill-prepared to make such a choice, look at the numbers and add them up and decide to do something else.

I stuck with what I enjoyed (science) and found I could not get work once I left university. Now I live abroad because companies in other countries actually hire people with skills and help them develop - not blindly require everyone to have 5-10 years industry experience. The old catch-22 scenario springs to mind: you want more graduates and experienced industry people but you won't employ graduates without experience and thus the pool of experienced people decreases as the number of graduates decreases due to the lack of demand.

"26 per cent of engineering graduates do not go into engineering or technical professions.
Answer: Because there are no jobs!
Even then, most chemistry graduates used to go into maths-based jobs like accounting rather than the chemical or manufacturing industries simply because there were not the jobs. Don't know what the situation is these days.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 11th January 2013 10:20am

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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises3 years ago
How many engineers does it take to design a new vacuum?

If he needs more engineers so badly, why doesn't he try something crazy like paying them higher salaries?
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Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
@Bruce Everiss

I think its irrelevant that the vacuum cleaners aren't manufactured here.

The profits all come back to the UK. Using off shore resource is not a bad thing and I wish more people realised that when it comes to 'UK Manufacturing'.

The things that are more practical to be done in a country like the UK (back office, management, designers, programmers etc) for different products should be done here, expensive factors such as production can be done overseas keeping our companies competitive whilst seeing money come back to the UK and keep people in jobs.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 13th January 2013 7:27am

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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
"The things that are more practical to be done in a country like the UK (back office, management, designers, programmers etc) for different products should be done here, expensive factors such as production can be done overseas keeping our companies competitive whilst seeing money come back to the UK and keep people in jobs."

Offshoring isn't that simple, it's not some wonderful panacea that leaves everyone a winner - it's also one of the reasons why so many grads find it difficult to get work in the industry here, especially outside of coding.
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D3 years ago
"26 per cent of engineering graduates do not go into engineering or technical professions."

So what? Only 50% of law grads go into law, and that's considered a high figure - 74% of engineering grads going into that profession is excellent.
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To foster that virtuous circle of creative talent, and with the advent of robotics, advanced AI and network infrastructure, it is quite plausible to grow, nurture and succour a majority " Made in UK" from beginning to end.

Afterall, we have ARM to power the chipsets, we have UCL for nano engineering, we have wearable next gen plastic chips and fantastic biotech firms, the R&D going into motion sensing, applications, user interface and games, have massive direct applications in super advanced robotics/next gen manufacturing

Our current weaknesses are

1/ self sufficiency: Energy & Food produce: we need alternative energy and energy efficient construction
2/ Legislation quamire of diplomatic/govt red tape: this affects free trade, IPOs and wealth creation
3/ Transport & Infrastructure investment: Lets build a spaceport (and ignore what brussels has to object to)
4/ next gen materials: we need a massive rare earths centre
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Paul Gheran Scrum Master 3 years ago
Humanity is so much more successful since the advent of cleanliness. It provides actual benefits that cannot be replicated by any other means. Sir Dyson is pissed because people act as though games fall into the same category, and then approach their life and career with that fallacy in mind.
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