Sir James Dyson, who is best known as the inventor of the Dual Cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner, has decided it is time to help bridge the engineering skills gap in the UK with the launch of a new university.
He has been complaining to the government for many years about skills shortages in engineering, and has now been challenged by Universities Minister Jo Johnson to take matters into his own hands.
Dyson will plough £15m over the next five years into the Dyson Institute of Technology, hoping to double his engineering workforce to 6,000 by 2020.
“We are competing globally with Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore,” said Dyson, noting that the UK currently needs 10 times as many engineers as it did 10 years ago, if we want to be better than major technology nations.
The institute will be based at Dyson’s campus in Malmsebury in Wiltshire, and will offer a four-year engineering degree in partnership with the University of Warwick.
Lord Bhattacharyya, a chairman at the University of Warwick, said he wanted to develop a “pool of talent” with the Dyson partnership. “It is vital that in order for UK companies to be competitive they must have the right people with the right skills” he said.
The degrees will initially be awarded by Warwick University, with Dyson applying for powers from the Department of Education to create a fully-fledged university.
Students will not pay any fees, and instead be paid themselves, to work alongside Dyson and engineers on “live products”.
Dyson said that the major area of development will be in robotics – autonomous devices or systems that can adapt intelligently to their environment.
A free University that pays you to do a real-world job, with access to experts in your field, will potentially create an exciting amount of home-grown talent that will rival other countries in years to come.
Posted on Monday, November 7, 2016
David Lewis, managing director, integra people, warrington