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Manufacturing 'needs protecting'

Inventor Sir James Dyson has urged the Government to do more to protect the future of manufacturing in Britain.

The entrepreneur, 65, famous for inventing the bagless Dyson vacuum cleaner, warned that Britain will have a deficit of 60,000 engineering graduates this year.

Too much emphasis has been placed on "the glamour of web fads and video gaming" over "tangible technology that we can export", he said.

"The Government must do more to attract the brightest and best into engineering and science so that we can compete internationally. 26% of engineering graduates do not go into engineering or technical professions. More worrying is that 85% of all engineering and science postgraduates in our universities come from outside the UK," he told the Radio Times magazine.

"Yet nine in 10 leave the UK after they finish their studies. British knowledge is simply taken abroad. Engineering postgraduates need to be encouraged with generous salaries. A salary of 7,000 a year for postgraduate research is insulting."

His comments come as BBC science experts compiled a list of the 50 greatest British inventions to coincide with the BBC's Genius of Invention season.

Radio Times is asking readers to vote for their best British invention from the list which is dominated by 19th century creations.

The 1820s account for 10% of the total list with the development of Faraday's electric motor (1821), waterproof material (1823), Aspdin's cement (1824), George Stephenson's passenger railway (1825) and the lawnmower by Edwin Beard Budding (1827), making it the most productive period.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "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."

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