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James Dyson: We Should Pay Students To Study Engineering

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the change-your-major dept.

United Kingdom 321

DavidGilbert99 writes "The inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner believes there is an engineering crisis in the UK and that 61,000 vacancies in the area will go unfilled in 2014. To address this Dyson believes says he wants the UK government to offer monetary incentives to students with an interest and aptitude in science — as well as changing the current visa system to make it easier for foreign students to remain in the country and get work once they have completed their education in the UK."

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Scholarships, you mean (5, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year ago | (#46140159)

The phrase he seems to be looking for is "we need scholarships for engineering students".

Re:Scholarships, you mean (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140175)

You would need to prove yourself worthy of the scholarship, otherwise you will have everybody and Chewbacca trying to get a free education out of the deal.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | about a year ago | (#46140221)

Well, Chewbacca is worthy of a scholarship. Or did you forget his people were enslaved to build the Death Stars?

Re:Scholarships, you mean (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | about a year ago | (#46140229)

Oh, and he was able to mostly keep the Falcon in the skies.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (4, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#46140565)

You would need to prove yourself worthy of the scholarship

Academic requirements for a scholarship? What a clever idea. I wonder why no one else has thought of that.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140905)

I have one final thing I want you to consider. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!

Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with scholarships? Nothing. It has nothing to do with scholarships! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm an AC on slashdot, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense!

If Chewbacca lives on Endor, he has no need for a scholarship.

No, Salaries (4, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#46140267)

Perhaps a better solution would be for companies to stop paying all the money to the managers and pay more of it to the people who actually make the company work. That way more people will want to get science and engineering because they lead to a valued and well paid job. Why would someone motivated by money take a few thousand pounds from the government now when they can get hundreds of thousands of pounds more over their career doing a far less challenging degree and setting themselves up to become a manager?

Re:No, Salaries (4, Insightful)

dontbemad (2683011) | about a year ago | (#46140423)

I don't know how it is in the UK, but as a STEM graduate (and a software engineer), I can't really understand what you're implying about science and engineering not already being well paid jobs. Sure, management generally makes higher than the average engineer, but the average engineer has a pretty high salary as well.

Re:No, Salaries (4, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about a year ago | (#46141001)

But there are many science and engineering jobs with poor pay. Pay for postdocs is low, and shamefully low for grad students taking on teaching fellowships. Internships are another. New or near grads who may already be burdened with massive student loan debt are sold a bill of goods, told that part of their pay is the "valuable" experience they gain, and this justifies paying them a pittance, or even nothing at all-- the infamous unpaid internship.

And if that isn't enough, what about employers who cheat their regular employees, not just the poor interns? One of the biggest problems with joining some small edgy startup, being mesmerized with the potential, suckered into dreams of great success, wealth, and fame, is that the odds of success are much poorer than they want to believe or admit. The finance folks tend to keep the engineers in the dark about the company's finances, until they can't make payroll. They borrow their engineer's time, knowing full well that if sales continue at the same level this month as in the previous 6 plus months, they will not be able to pay, but wishfully hoping that this month will be different. So the poor engineer wasn't told, and doesn't find out until they've taken a month of work that they can't pay for. Indeed management tends to view engineers as chumps too dumb and narrow to see the larger picture, and also as arrogant about their intelligence, so why not take them to the cleaners and get a little kick out of putting one over on those smarty pants? Helps soothe the sting of failure to screw over a bunch of arrogant engineers they've been jealous of since grade school math class. Then they usually have the cheek to say that the situation will surely improve shortly, the corner will be turned any day now, and ask that the engineers now volunteer further time and effort for free, to be paid back later only if the company succeeds of course. Show your commitment and passion, yeah!

The 1099 can be another way to cheat the engineer. The engineer is once again suckered with visions of glorious independence and freedom while the "contractee" (*cough* employer *cough*) gets out of all kinds of pesky labor regulations and overhead pay like contributing to unemployment and retirement funds.

There are some head hunting agencies that are positively predatory. One that I recall insisted that job seekers sign a contract that stated that the employer will pay the agency 1/3 of the new employee's first year of pay, and that if the employer fails to pay this money, then the employee is on the hook for it! I had visions of this being turned into a little scam. Get hired by an employer in cahoots with the agency and who never intended to keep you but instead plans to come up with an excuse to fire you in 91 days. Earn 3 months of pay, owe 4 months of pay. Profit!

And where is the government while employees are being fleeced? In the employers' corner, having been bought off with generous campaign donations. Might even send the police in to do some union busting.

Re:No, Salaries (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#46141011)

I don't believe that's true in the UK; I've seen many engineers complain about how poorly they're paid. Back in the Industrial Revolution, engineers were super-stars of their time, for building the hardware that made the country rich, but today most Britons probably think they fix washing machines.

Clearly the country doesnt need more STEM graduates, or they'd be paid better. Then no-one would have to pay them to study the subject, because they'd know it would provide them a good income for life.

Re:No, Salaries (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#46140445)

Company: That's a great idea that will help to ensure the long-term health of the industry! ...You first.

Re:No, Salaries (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140475)


Please look at this site: http://atorb.com

Re:No, Salaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140535)

Perhaps a better solution would be for companies to stop paying all the money to the managers and pay more of it to the people who actually make the company work.

You mean convince the 1% at the top to stop hoarding all of the money? Isn't that how the economy is meant to work?

Re:No, Salaries (2)

tsqr (808554) | about a year ago | (#46140971)

Perhaps a better solution would be for companies to stop paying all the money to the managers and pay more of it to the people who actually make the company work.

You mean convince the 1% at the top to stop hoarding all of the money? Isn't that how the economy is meant to work?

Line managers and middle managers are not part of "the 1%". You're talking about executive management and corporate officers, typically vice presidents and CxOs. Those positions are usually so sparse that confiscating most their compensation and redistributing it to the rank and file wouldn't do much to elevate the lifestyle of the rank and file.

For example, executive compensation at Northrop Grumman in 2012 totalled $64.9 million. Split among the corporation's 70,000 employees, that would come to an extra $927 for the year, pre-tax, which would translate to about $560 net for most engineers. That's a movie with popcorn and sodas for two, once a month, and maybe gas to get to and from the cinema. Not exactly a lifestyle changer.

Re:No, Salaries (4, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about a year ago | (#46140677)

I like to believe that effective management does contribute value to an organization, perhaps even in proportion to what higher level managers are paid.

The problems with this are manifold: starting with too many Chiefs and not enough Indians - the unwillingness of higher management to keep lower performing managers at lower levels / pay-grades means you get a bunch of people "up there" who really don't belong, but have managed to not get fired for long enough that they are raised up just based on longevity, or maybe a few rare good performance quarters. Not that there's not value in longevity, loyalty, and deep knowledge of an organization that comes from years of experience, just that longevity by itself isn't valuable.

Another problem is simple, short time horizon metrics that reward "making it happen NOW" with no regard for long term damage. Constantly moving goal posts that erase long term mistakes from the incentive structure - and higher level management that just doesn't care about the 5 or 10 year horizon.

Then you've got the ever expanding golden hiring carrots. In order to get talent in the door, inflated positions are offered, sometimes beyond the value of the position to the company, just to win a valuable player away from the competition. This, of course, reaches epically absurd proportions at the CEO level, but I found myself "in line" for a promotion from top-of-the-technical-ladder to a management spot that was open and advertised, but really just a placeholder for someone the company wanted to snag away from a competitor. In theory, there was no top-of-the-technical ladder, but in practice, at that company of 1000 employees, there were roughly 6 engineers at my level, one at the next level up (who was given that spot as a hiring incentive), and no promotions at or above that level in the company history - contrast this with dozens upon dozens of management track promotions, that, regardless of title, were making 10-20% higher base salary and 30% bonuses instead of 10% - just at the next level up, and the bonuses continued to climb to 100% of salary and beyond for the higher levels - which again outnumbered the top-of-the-technical-ladder people by a significant multiple. Except in ethically dubious fields (automated securities trading, anyone?) nobody seems to feel the need to offer large compensation incentives for technical work, but it's out there for management.

And, thus, even an incompetent manager bringing home $170K/year can be passed off as "Well, at least we're not paying him $300K like that last jerk." but an engineer who makes $125K is "oh my god, we can get 2, maybe 3 good kids from the University for that money."

Re:No, Salaries (1)

erikkemperman (252014) | about a year ago | (#46140883)

Also, the Peter Principle [wikipedia.org] . Basically it says that as long you prove yourself competent in your current position, you will have a shot at promotion -- so therefore a lot of people get promoted at least once too often, and wind up out of their depth.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about a year ago | (#46140439)

Roughly 1983 through 1991 Florida was doing exactly this, providing scholarships to state residents to attend private universities in the state - and they were picking up the cost difference between private and state schools, for high level STEM courses.

Like any good idea, it eventually got shouted down by the political process, but it worked for / on me, I stayed in-state, got my degree, and now I work here in STEM jobs.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (3, Insightful)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year ago | (#46140643)

we need scholarships for engineering students

No. The solution is to make education affordable enough so scholarships are pointless. An educated populace brings many good things into balance.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (3, Insightful)

Mitsoid (837831) | about a year ago | (#46140957)

along the same lines..

We need to stop this education-for-profit business model that is encouraging schools to over-populate classrooms by providing very small scholarships and encouraging loans. Pointless required classes are another great thing to trash (I'm not talking Gen Ed, I'm talking 2-3 classes that could be merged into 1).

When I went to school for IT, I had 3 classes that discussed (in roughly the same detail) the *theory* and *standards* of how various communication mediums worked. Pointless. Make 1 of them a hands-on class at least!

Re:Scholarships, you mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140671)

The phrase he seems to be looking for is "we need scholarships for engineering students".

Not really... that's the US term, sure, but this is the UK we're talking about.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (1)

Hypotensive (2836435) | about a year ago | (#46140873)

Or, indeed, government grants. You know, like they had last century. When British universities were among the most respected in the world.

No, not scholarships (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#46140923)

The phrase he seems to be looking for is "we need scholarships for engineering students".

Absolutely not. Scholarships pay schools, not students. We need to make it so that students who are studying needed professions end up with something in their pockets besides massive debt.

"Scholarships" are just redistributive, upwards. They make sure school administrations are wealthy and corporations have a guaranteed workforce that's so needy they'll work cheap.

Higher education has become another method of exploitation.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (2)

hodet (620484) | about a year ago | (#46140933)

..and nothing prevents his company from offering scholarships. Governments are stretched pretty thin and it would be nice if private industry stepped up here, as they will be the ones to really benefit from qualified engineers. Perhaps government could match their investments and make it a partnership at least. What he is asking for is to socialize the costs so he can privatize the expected profits. These always end up with the threat of leaving, like they wouldn't do that anyway if it was beneficial to them.

Re:Scholarships, you mean (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#46141029)

I'm not sure if things have changed in the past 10 years, but when I was at university, it was possible to go to school for engineering, and walk out with no student loans. Between scholarships and co-op placements, you could basically get your entire degree without going into debt. Of course, to get the scholarships, you had to get some pretty high marks, but I only think that's fair. You don't want to be paying for the education of engineers who are just barely scraping by.

No, never! (2)

Ries (765608) | about a year ago | (#46140183)

As an engineer, I think this is a bad idea. Cause you know, they tirrrkk errrr JERRRBBSS!!

Re:No, never! (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#46140247)

Well, you're right that it would be bad for you personally: Supply and demand means that scarcity of qualified engineers raises the price (a.k.a. your income) of engineering services, whereas a surplus of qualified engineers lowers the price.

That doesn't mean that all immigrants are bad for you: Immigrants engaged in any other profession increase economic activity overall, which increases demand for all sorts of things, which may well increase demand for engineers.

Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140189)

If you don't bring fresh slaves from abroad, I'll need to increase wages.

Re:Translation (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year ago | (#46140717)

Damn right - Dyson's company is constantly trying to recruit highly experienced motor control engineers at janitorial pay rates.

How about paying students after graduation? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#46140193)

Paying students is a nice idea, but won't change a thing.

Face it, the only jobs that pay money are jobs that deal with money. Being productive is simply not something you get paid for, pushing money about is where the money is.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140333)

We don't only need more engineers who are doing it for the money. How about simply teaching the skills to someone that is destined for minimum wage because they can't afford what it takes for college.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#46140803)

No, but we also don't need more good engineers that have to go into some mindless pencil pushing job because it's the only one that pays the bills. It simply hurts to see people who are talented engineers rot away in some mindless job filling spreadsheets that any business major is good enough for.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (4, Interesting)

JWW (79176) | about a year ago | (#46140355)

This is why we're failing. Money as a concept is designed to be an engine that runs the economy.

But to run that economy we need bankers and traders that help us run the mechanisms that promote business and commerce. These people, who are supposed to be making the system work for all of us and taking a profit on the providing of their services, have used their proximity to the money to, well, steal and skim money off the system to make themselves rich. They make themselves rich beyond reason. The system is no longer about the economy at large and about promoting business, its about banking and about the market.

The market starts prompting companies to do make bad and destructive decisions in order to make the banks and markets more money. Eventually they create perverse "instruments" for making money. When I first heard credit default swaps being defined, I couldn't believe that the people who created them weren't in jail for perpetrating fraud, it was so fucking blatant.

So our economic system will fall apart and burn to the ground because it no longer serves the purpose it was created for, it is corrupted beyond repair.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | about a year ago | (#46140389)

There is some truth to this, but mind what "dealing with money" may mean. Retailing is all it takes, you don't need to be a financier. Say, for example, the duty free shoppers [dfsgroup.com] empire (founded mostly by Chuck Feeney and Robert Warren Miller). In the time before it sold to LVMH in 1997, they seemed able to extract 20 billion USD out of mostly asian customers, with essentially zero investment. It was all high-overhead retailing, nothing less, nothing more. They were very productive in that enterprise.

Just think of this: there were years when Feeney and Miller were extracting over $100 million USD yearly in dividends out of that enterprise. To give you another idea of the scale involved: at one point they were paying the Hawaii airport authority $1 million every 3 days for the concession to operate at the airport. DFS was worth way more than many of the large financial operators you might have heard about, like Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers. Heck, Miller and Feeney were personally worth IIRC more than Stearns and Lehman and a couple other large investment banks combined, for crying out loud.

Of course Chuck Feeney gave all his money to a charitable foundation he created, and is on his way to be the biggest philanthropist of all time. I think the joke is that he was basically bankrolling Irish higher education for a while.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (2, Interesting)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#46140663)

On 60 Minutes this weekend they had a story about a 15-year-old kid who created an early test for pancreatic cancer. He and his brother played "science lab" in the basement. Their parents stayed out of it and said, "Don't blow up the house" and they got several calls from the FBI about their "purchase history", but the parents ignored it and let them play science anyway.

Nobody's going to go into science if they get a call from the FBI every time they try.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (1)

dargaud (518470) | about a year ago | (#46140747)

Yeah, in France you actually get paid once you get in the very best engineering schools, and the next best ones are basically free, all expenses paid. But the side effect is that a lots of students with NO interest in science and/or engineering get into them, and then do completely unrelated things once they get out, usually some well paid managers. So in the end, if you like science but aren't too good, you can't get into the schools, and there still aren't enough engineers in the end.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#46140899)

Interesting. Our schools have a similar system where you can get in for free (or practically free, we're talking a few 100 bucks a year). Of course, the lecture halls are packed during the first semesters. But the tests are SO insanely hard that you can only get through if you're willing to go that extra mile, and then some, to get grades that let you pass.

The net effect is a dropout rate that is between 90 and 98% in most fields, but those that DO get a degree are very much sought after. It's easy to get in, but getting through means that you're damn good.

Re:How about paying students after graduation? (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | about a year ago | (#46141125)

Somebody is just bitter.

Sure, there's a bunch of money sucking parasites in Wall Street, and then another bunch of them in Washington DC, but then, to claim that they are the "only" jobs that pay well, is bullshit. The richest people in the world aren't the ones that merely push money about (except maybe Buffett). If you're talking about being an employee at a large corporation kind of "job", how about 3 million dollars [businessinsider.com] at Google? Not sure how productive he was, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't in the business of pushing money around per se.

Tech is generally as well paid as any other industry -- it's just disingenuous to whine about compensation in the tech industry when it's been outgrowing basically every other industry, and companies scrambling to hire anyone who has a hint of talent.

Worker shortage in 2014 (5, Insightful)

bluegutang (2814641) | about a year ago | (#46140197)

...so we need to fund education for students who won't hit the job market until several years later?

Give me a break.

And trust the free market for once. If there's a worker shortage, then wages will rise until demand and supply equalize and there is no more shortage.

All the whining about a shortage of engineers is simply a trick by employers to increase supply and decrease the wages they have to pay.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#46140245)

Free what? C'mon, free market is dead.

There is by no means any shortage of people pushing money about, yet salaries are hitting record heights every year.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about a year ago | (#46140901)

Friend of mine took her fresh BS degree to work as an Assistant manager at a bank. The pay was o.k. - nothing great, but the next level up, the branch manager - who rolled in around 10, then sat and read the paper most days, but did handle the occasional off the hook customer when they happened, they made double what the Assistants made, the Assistants were the ones responsible for making sure that the daily cash count checked out, directly managing the tellers, opening and closing the branch, etc The branch managers would take an annual retreat to a different fancy resort every year where they, among other things, would decide salary levels for the upcoming year. On good years, the tellers and assistants would get cost of living raises - 2 to sometimes even 5%, while the branch managers and higher ups would usually congratulate themselves on their brilliant strategic handling of the banking business with a 10% raise, plus a bonus of whatever the bank could afford. On years when the bank wasn't doing so well, the rank and file would have to suck it up and keep level pay, or even once a decrease, while the managers would find some reason that they still deserved a 10% raise.

So, the best suck-up assistants, who also happened to have family connections to the branch managers, might find themselves one day promoted to branch manager when a spot opened up - but, without the family connections, you might spend 20+ years as an assistant. My friend took her BS degree elsewhere after a couple of years of watching this lesson in life up close.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140293)

Wages won't rise. They'll just get more H1b. That's your free market right there. We need to do the same for doctors and lawyers as well.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (2)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a year ago | (#46140321)

And trust the free market for once. If there's a worker shortage, then wages will rise until demand and supply equalize and there is no more shortage.

Ah...I think I now see his motivation.

You have to admit, it's clever.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140387)

You can expect clever ideas from engineers or other analytical minds who have a personal stake. In this case, root is one of many technical minded professionals who would like to get paid according to his contribution to corporate success, rather than according to some log-scale org chart pay scheme.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#46140377)

And trust the free market for once.

Well, a free market involves freedom of movement of three elements: capital, goods, and labor. Here you only have 2 out of 3. The result is an imbalance, and since people don't like letting the labor move around they are trying to correct the imbalance using other incentives.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140431)

All the whining about a shortage of engineers is simply a trick by employers to increase supply and decrease the wages they have to pay.

It is the same whinng we have heard from business, industry groups, and government about a shortage of qualified software engineers and computer programmers since shortly after the dot-com bubble burst. The reality is wages have steadily decreased whereas a shortage should cause wages to increase. I was contacted about an opportunity requiring 10 years experience (okay - got it) but the compensation must have been significantly lower than the wage expectation (55K - a bargain for my experience level but a liveable wage in my mind) that I was required to provide on the application. Never heard back.

There is no free market (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#46140493)

Since only EU citizens can apply for these jobs and there is a EU shortage of said professions. A lot of work was shipped out to "cheap labour" countries but is now coming back because team work and quality control have proven to be too cumbersome to warrant the lower price. The people capable of doing these jobs don't exist in the EU, since these jobs often require experience with new technologies and if there was no work in it, nobody learned or got experience with the new stuff. As far as the free market goes, that means that restricting these jobs to EU only people and the big myth that off shoring would be so much cheaper have killed the market and wages are rising again for certain professions. The price will go up so much, that most companies won't be able to afford it and either they will not hire and struggle, or outsource longer, delaying the economy and not solving anything for the local job market on short term. So, no free market and the EU governments have to step in to fix this.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (2)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#46140627)

No. They don't. The wage for software engineers in Orange County, CA has barely gone up in the last 5 years, despite there being 5 openings at every company.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (1)

Wansu (846) | about a year ago | (#46140737)

And trust the free market for once. If there's a worker shortage, then wages will rise until demand and supply equalize and there is no more shortage.

The powers that be don't trust the invisible hand of the free market. In this case, they want to tamper with it by providing incentives. In the US, they flood the labor market with H1Bs and ship whatever jobs they can to low wage countries. They are all for the free market so long as it works in their favor. When it doesn't they whine for bailouts of some sort to fix it.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (4, Informative)

ngibbins (88512) | about a year ago | (#46140895)

Dyson's talking about the UK, where over the last decade and a half we've moved from a higher education system funded from general taxation, to one in which teaching is funded almost entirely through tuition fees. A student studying for a four-year undergraduate masters (typical for engineering subjects in the UK) now faces a debt of £36,000 (US$60,000) for their tuition alone; living expenses (rent, food) will typically add upwards of £20,000 to the overal cost. By contrast, when I graduated with BSc Computer Science in 1994, I did so without debt; my tuition and living expenses were paid for by my local education authority, as was then the norm. As a result, we're seeing a decline in admissions across science engineering as a whole, and a very pronounced shift from four year MEng degrees to three year BSc/BEng. The decline varies from discipline to discipline; computer science so far seems to have got off quite lightly, but others have been hit much harder (materials science, for example). It's very touching that you believe that the invisible hand is going to make everything better, but the reality is that any correction in engineering salaries is likely to take decades (if not longer), and the shortage of STEM graduates is rather more immediate. Dyson's arguments are sensible, and effectively take us back to the situation of the early 90s: tuition fees would be paid by the state. He also makes reference to the decline of the post-study work permit system that used to exist in the UK; it used to be the case that overseas students at UK universities would get a two year work permit. This was a boon for UK engineering employers - I've employed several such graduates on my projects. The decisions made by the current UK government (and to a lesser extent to the previous Labour government, for they introduced tuition fees, albeit at a lower level) have been harmful to both UK higher education and to UK science and engineering. (an explanatory note to the above: I'm a lecturer (US professor) at a research-led UK university, and the coordinator for an undergraduate computer science degree programme - I know what I'm talking about)

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (1)

mdragan (1166333) | about a year ago | (#46140909)

Well, to be fair, trusting free market would also mean removing the artificial barriers that prevent people from outside the country from working in the country. Otherwise the employers will move their business to a country with lower wages, as per said free market principles.

Re:Worker shortage in 2014 (1)

Altus (1034) | about a year ago | (#46140985)

wages rising is exactly what corporations would like to avoid. Far better for them to get someone else to foot the bill and keep labor cheep

No, you should pay them to work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140203)

Engineering has always been the redheaded stepchild of professions. This goes back to the 19th century. Paying people to study something that's fairly simple isn't the solution. Paying people to work in engineering because it's important is what should be done. Good luck with that.

Lawyers guarantee future employment by making the legal system more and more complex every year. Engineering guarantees outsourcing by getting rid of ways of doing things.

Why would anyone bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140217)

If you live in a country that provides all your basic needs without having to work, why would you put yourself through the stress and effort of an engineering degree, and why would you bother working at a job that is used to fund the basic needs of people who didn't and don't?

Re:Why would anyone bother? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year ago | (#46140255)

Because I don't enjoy living on 400 bucks a month in a neighborhood where I fear those 400 bucks ain't gonna be mine for long?

How about... (1)

XPeter (1429763) | about a year ago | (#46140239)

We increase scholarships for ALL students pursing fields of job growth, not just engineering

nonsense (4, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#46140249)

We don't need to pay students to study engineering. We have plenty of engineers. We need to stop paying companies (through tax breaks) to out source engineering. There is no STEM shortage, and this myth needs to mercilessly shot down every time a company executive propagates it.

Re:nonsense (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#46140497)

If you're talking about the US, I agree. But the article is about the UK, and as an American I don't really know the situation. I'd love to hear from some Britons.

Re:nonsense (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about a year ago | (#46140915)

I'll believe there's a STEM shortage when top engineers are receiving higher than CEO level pay in significant organizations around the country.

Is there also a CEO shortage?

We need more engineers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140253)

... agrees one Slashdot poster after another.

*Slashdot editor faints*

Bagless Vacuum (0)

coinreturn (617535) | about a year ago | (#46140259)

I have to say that the bagless vacuum cleaner was the stupidest invention of all time. Instead of replacing bags,you have to replace filters. Big fucking whoop. And when you empty the vacuum, you get to breath a giant cloud dust - way to go. The guy is second in my mind to whoever invented those hard plastic cases you have to use a boxcutter to open. That guy deserves the chair for his crimes against humanity.

Exactly (1)

CQDX (2720013) | about a year ago | (#46140345)

After using two bagless vacuums and dealing with the clogged filters and cloud of dust when I have to empty them, I refuse to buy anymore. My $40 Dirt Devil with the traditional bag is cleaner and easier to maintain than any of the expensive bagless I've owned in the past.

Re:Bagless Vacuum (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about a year ago | (#46140437)

I have to say that the bagless vacuum cleaner was the stupidest invention of all time. Instead of replacing bags,you have to replace filters.

No, actually, you don't. With my Dyson, you wash out a filter once every few months.

And when you empty the vacuum, you get to breath a giant cloud dust - way to go.

You're doing it wrong, apparently. I breathed in more dust changing bags than I do emptying my bagless.

YMMV, but I love bagless vacuums. Keeping bags on hand is a total pain in the ass, and the suction decreases as they fill up.

Re:Bagless Vacuum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140567)

And when you empty the vacuum, you get to breath a giant cloud dust - way to go.

You're doing it wrong, apparently. I breathed in more dust changing bags than I do emptying my bagless.

If you're breathing in dust while changing a vacuum bag but not with a bagless then you must live on Bizarro Earth.

Re:Bagless Vacuum (1)

coinreturn (617535) | about a year ago | (#46140879)

And when you empty the vacuum, you get to breath a giant cloud dust - way to go.

You're doing it wrong, apparently. I breathed in more dust changing bags than I do emptying my bagless.

My bad. I forgot to don my level-6 containment suit when I emptied the bagless.

Re:Bagless Vacuum (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about a year ago | (#46140937)

C'mon what kind of consumer are you? When the vacuum gets full, you're supposed to pitch it and go buy another - or, from Dyson's perspective level, don't you have people who empty the vacuum for you?

Bad Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140265)

Paying somebody to study a subject that they haven't chosen themselves is never a good idea. If somebody is interested in studying engineering they'll study it without financial inducement. If somebody is interested in studying law and you pay them to study engineering they probably won't turn out to be particularly useful engineers.

Besides, if Dyson is so convinced it's a good idea why doesn't his company pay students to study engineering? Clearly he wants trained employees but doesn't want to invest anything in training himself.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about a year ago | (#46140407)

Agreed, The people who are best at [subject X] are those that have a passion for [subject X]. When I interview people for (programming related) jobs, I focus less on what they actually know and more on whether they have a love for it (do they do programming related stuff on their own either for fun or self-improvement, etc.). Even if they don't have the skill I need immediately, I know that they will ramp up quickly and be more productive than someone who went into computer science because it was a high paying job.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | about a year ago | (#46141025)

Agreed, The people who are best at [subject X] are those that have a passion for [subject X]. When I interview people for (programming related) jobs, I focus less on what they actually know and more on whether they have a love for it (do they do programming related stuff on their own either for fun or self-improvement, etc.). Even if they don't have the skill I need immediately, I know that they will ramp up quickly and be more productive than someone who went into computer science because it was a high paying job.

Its not so much about paying people to do something as supporting them while they do it (ie enabling them to do the thing they love) otherwise you'll lose potentially good people to other careers. Disciplines compete for the best graduates, and a small financial incentive can make a big difference to a grad student deciding what to study if it means they can spend their evenings studying instead of washing dishes.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#46140691)

RTFA, "pay students" means give them scholarships. Do you think there shouldn't be scholarships because they provide some sort of perverse incentive?

Please no (1)

conquistadorst (2759585) | about a year ago | (#46140271)

Probably not a good idea. I suspect it will probably attract the students that shouldn't be going into engineering in the first place. I don't know what would be worse, having more subpar engineers or having fewer superb engineers.

Instead, all the focus should be made during childhood education. By either family or schools, preferably families. Along with touting maths and sciences, we should also drill children on how to use and how not to use money while we're at it. But those pesky 20-year-solution-plans are so distasteful, quick useless bandaids sound so much better tasting...

Bullshit. That's insanity. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140273)

Hey! The outsourcing industry has made STEM a joke! Even scientists fight for funds like wolves over scraps. If you have to pay people to volunteer for evisceration in that gladiatorial arena, then perhaps the answer is in the arena, not the people who don't want to enter it.

Oh, I know, instead of eliminating the corporate ability to cherry pick only research that is immediately profitable, why don't we just pay scientists and engineers adequately for their labor so that the students will have incentive to enter STEM jobs?

Outlaw outsourcing, or at least outlaw patents and copyrights. Then you will have to pay for the labor of research whether or not the research pans out -- No one can know which research will yield profit ahead of time otherwise you would only research profitable subjects. It costs the same labor whether you discover a breakthrough or merely something else that can lead to a breakthrough for someone else later.

Free education (4, Insightful)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#46140281)

Even the so called "free education" is a bit dubious in Finland. In addition to a steady rate of achieving study credits (fair enough) which warrant your student benefit, the new system limits receiving the benefit to 4 years max. If you haven't graduated in that period, it's GTFO unless you have a side job. You cannot even raise more student loan as it is government-backed and tied to the student benefit. Now when you are forced to drop out of school in this situation, you suddenly get luxurious social welfare support which is more than enough money for good living. Studying should be the more attractive deal, not drinking booze at home.

Re:Free education (2)

Megol (3135005) | about a year ago | (#46140553)

Now this sounds very much as bullshit so I took some time to try to find any facts in the area:

Let's say one live in an apartment that costs €250/month then one can get ~€600 benefit + loan + €200 for rent (80% of €250): €800

So how much is the social welfare? Well from what I can find it's €480 but I can't find any explicit mention of extra support for housing/rent costs, I'll assume that one can get it at the same rate as above: €200 which gives a sum of: €680

Significantly less money, money that is _conditional_. You call that attractive?!?

Are you a "perussuomalaiset"/sannfinländare per chance? They tend to have problems thinking...

OMG (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140285)



And now I have to have some lowercase bullshit downhere.

No, really, start circlejerking. You fucks do realize it's only a matter of time before the software makes engineering a less skilled, low-wage button pushing environment, correct? You think you're going to graduate making 6 figures? Yeah. . . Good luck with that.

Says the man who outsourced to China (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140291)

i would take anything Dyson says very sceptically, he outsourced his "bagless" cleaners manufacture to China and his taxes offshore
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/m... [thisismoney.co.uk]

so forgive me if i cant take his word on anything about the UK when he cant even contribute to his countries wellbeing.

What bout... (1)

Agares (1890982) | about a year ago | (#46140337)

Doing something that is similar to the way the military does things. They could offer a bonus to students that enter the engineering field, but they receive only it on certain conditions. The first half of the bonus they get after they graduate and land a job. The rest is paid over a period of time for example. Let’s just say four years in this example. Now only those who are competent and willing to work hard get the bonus. I wonder if this would work well?

I thought he was in marketing. (2)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#46140339)

I thought his strong suit was in marketing. Selling those crappy looking vacuums and fans for astronomical prices, that at best perform at the level of products 1/4 of their price tag.

Re:I thought he was in marketing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140581)

I saw a good interview with him on Charlie Rose. I got the impression that he was quite fond of engineering, R&D, building a better mousetrap, etc. The airblade dryer is a good example.
The article starts with "Dyson is already an icon of British inventiveness" - whether its completely true or not, the perception is that its more than a marketing gimmick.
Fun captcha: develops!

Dyson == Douche (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140347)

This guy is a marketing genius!

His inventiveness and engineering skills are, underwhelming.

His opinion on higher education seems to be uninformed.

Visa system? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#46140459)

Whatever happened to spending the money on educating one's own citizenry? I'm all for spreading the love around, but shouldn't the taxpayers get some at-home problems solved for their dollars, pounds, what have you?

Whoa whoa whoa, you've got it all wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140463)

"monetary incentives"
These are the stupidest possible solutions to the problem.

The problem belongs to the employers which will have the vacancies, not the government or general population.
These vacancies exist because companies do not offer a fair share of their profits to their employees.
Let these companies die.
Let engineers who can't find jobs die.

Start your own fucking business and learn how to live a free life.

delayed gratification was the original model. (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#46140495)

these are just the ramblings of an old man, so feel free to skip em but I remember Studying, the academic pursuit of higher education that is, was originally predicated on the ostensible monetary success ones career may bring. Doctors and Engineers were paid much more handsomely for their services than artists and english majors. in return they enjoyed much more demanding work some would argue.

with the encroachment of privatized education this is no longer the case. the monetary shackles of student loans are interminable and ensure that no matter how successful an engineer may be, they are ultimately relegated for a substantial portion of their adult lives to subsistence living. Engineers, like english and philosophy majors, dont just "get a job" after college anymore. In fact many students watching newly minted engineers join the workforce as hamburger cooks and third shift walmart drones would just as soon skip the college experience entirely.

and what about the successful engineers? shops when faced with pressure to make wages more competitive have instead lobbied for more cheap H-1B visas and interns. Code is written in the Phillipines, and hardware assembled in Taiwan. Greybeards like myself sit in cubicles and 'kindly do the needful' to turn a rather mocking phrase while the rank and file, what we hire for simple CAD or EE work, is mandated to start with 5 years experience and an advanced degree. It guarantees we never hire anything that comes out of the alma mater.

Why controversial? was true for 1980s students (3, Informative)

fantomas (94850) | about a year ago | (#46140499)

Not sure why the article describes this a "controversial proposal". In the 1980s in the UK many (all?) undergraduates got grants (scholarships from the state for living expenses) as well as all their course fees paid.

Perhaps it's an indication of how politics have changed that the proposal to reinstate something the people assumed was a normal expenditure by the government of the day, both left and right wing, for several decades (state support of people undertaking university studies) is now considered "controversial".

Ah happy memories of the grant cheque coming in, bank managers trying to appear down with the kids to get them to sign up for their first bank account with that large cheque and more to follow, financial management learnt by many who hadn't previously had anything more than their weekly income from a paper round striding down the streets of a big new city with three months of bed and board advance payments burning a hole in their pockets...

Maybe some unemployed US EEs should move to the UK (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#46140507)

Re:Maybe some unemployed US EEs should move to the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46141121)

It's really hard to immigrate especially if you are unemployed. You need to have enough money to support yourself for something like 2 years to even get considered for a visa.

Science and engineering in basket case UK (2)

Wowsers (1151731) | about a year ago | (#46140551)

The UK is a basket case, it treats the arts in higher esteem than the sciences and engineering (unlike countries like Germany). The general public in the UK don't like people who takes sciences (how popular are science nerds/geeks compared to jocks in school?) Money is thrown at the arts like it's going out of fashion, the scienes however always have funding problems.

When I studied at university, the arts students were the ones who had lots of time to prop up the student bars, and could get any books they wanted very cheaply (say £5), whereas for sciences, it was normal to spend £50+ for just one book.

In the UK, the amount of effort you put into a science degree and pay you get, is inversely proportional to the effort and pay the arts students get (unless you're really really good in your chosen science subject)

So of course, the sciences should have their courses paid for compared to the arts. But I would add to that, to prevent people jumping onto a science course because it's free, they MUST have studied science courses and have good grades in them from lower schools before getting to university. This should prevent students from moving courses.

Umm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140557)

Uh, we don't even pay students who have already completed their studies in engineering. That's why there are so few students. You want to increase the number of engineers, start hiring them by the boatload and pay a lot of money. That's how supply and demand work.

in civilized countries... (1)

Mr_Nitro (1174707) | about a year ago | (#46140597)

study is a right, from start to your PhD , at most you pay for the books and a nominal fee (i.e 500 euro/year if your finances/family permits else it's free). Paying tens of thousands or getting debts before you even start working is simply barbaric and the heritage of a classist society. But you know sheeple are good for the ones who controls....

he's rich enough (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#46140669)

At a net worth of 4.4 billion dollars [forbes.com] he should provide some scholarships himself.

Aren't the foreign students... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140745)

...desperately needed in their OWN countries?

Better than the American SOB's (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#46140771)

I don't know if Dyson's real agenda is to get the UK to import more cheap foreign labor, but even if it is, his accompanying proposal is better than what we get in the US. He's suggesting scholarships, while FWD.US and it's associated propaganda organizations are proposing an hour of code in public school.

No way, go private and sidestep the gov't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140837)

If I owned a large company I would much rather bank roll students myself and hand pick the best and brightest. Then offer them a position with a contract requiring a certain minimum years of commitment, with non-compete clauses, and base their pay on performance.

Re:No way, go private and sidestep the gov't. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#46141041)

If I owned a large company I would much rather bank roll students myself and hand pick the best and brightest. Then offer them a position with a contract requiring a certain minimum years of commitment, with non-compete clauses, and base their pay on performance.

That would make sense, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal in the UK.

Re:No way, go private and sidestep the gov't. (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about a year ago | (#46141123)

Why would companies do that? when they can get people to pay for all their training and studies themselves, AND then you get to pick the best. After all staff development costs money which is why most companies don't do it. My last gig, I informed the head of dept that I wasn't familiar and required training on something. She told me to look it up on wikipedia. The cheek they had about world class staff development.

We Should Pay Black Students To Study Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46140885)

James Dyson: We Should Pay (Black/Muslim/any-non-white) Students To Study Engineering

White Genocide.

In the UK, we used to give grants to study. (2)

hughbar (579555) | about a year ago | (#46140903)

We used in the 1960s/1970s to give grants to study at university rather than the USA-style debt/indenture system we have now. At that stage, we had fewer universities, since we hadn't converted our polytechnics, many of which were rubbish, into 'universities'. Also, most of the degree were in actual subjects, science, maths, engineering and english, history, geography, for example.

Now we have media studies, we had kite flying for a while at Thames Valley. In short, the worst of all possible worlds, basically by 'financialising' the system and expanding it in a very thoughtless way. The debt and high fee make it difficult for working class kids too, in my time they would have had a full grant, though they would have probably had to work a little in vacation time. I did.

So I agree somewhat with Dyson. He's a little younger than me and probably remembers the older system.

Shouldn't this be called a salary? (1)

swb (14022) | about a year ago | (#46140967)

It seems to me that salaries should mostly be based on how much work was required and how much skill was demonstrated in gaining whatever accreditation a person has. It sort of is, doctors and lawyers work a long time to get their degrees and usually have to demonstrate fairly high skill in the process.

Gaining an engineering degree requires a lot of work and also a lot of demonstration of what was learned through testing (especially for a PE).

Somehow, though, it doesn't work this way, and even when it does it seems to get corrupted in weird ways.

In Denmark. (1)

Brostenen (3503451) | about a year ago | (#46140997)

Ohhh!!! Pay student's! All students in Denmark, get payed, when they attend a state approved education. Highschool, university, u name it. So for me, it's kind of a joke that we are one of the only states in the world, wich are "investing" in the nations future this way.

There is not a shortage of engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#46141095)

There is a shortage of experienced engineers and no-one wants to pay to train new engineers or to give untried engineers the proper treatment to keep them from jumping ship when someone else comes along. The energy industry in Houston is a great example. Tons of jobs. Tons of people looking for those jobs, but very little "entry level" hiring occurs outside of the usual college graduation cycle. Even then, most companies will spend years looking for a candidate that already has experience so they wind up sniping talent from the other guy.

No shortage (1)

Justpin (2974855) | about a year ago | (#46141101)

Whenever an industry says there is a shortage, you can translate that into. We don't want to pay the going rate. I was suckered into this in the 90s and early 00s. When there was a shortage of accounts people. They just wanted more to suppress wages. Secondly schools (Universities, colleges etc) don't want to teach engineering because it is an expensive course to teach especially if there are practical elements. While teaching a social science requires a few books and a classroom. Quite ironically my local not very highly ranked university specialises in engineering and production processes. They have an excellent department headed by the former head of department of a top university. Because of the bad reputation it attracts few people ad they are thinking of closing it down.
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