Sir James Dyson: UK immigration rules are 'sheer madness'

The British investor says restrictions on foreign staff is counter-productive to the UK's competitiveness.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 20 Oct 2014

Sir James Dyson, best known for his bagless vacuum cleaner invention, said Britain has a shortage of skilled home-grown engineers and that it’s ‘sheer madness’ the UK isn’t more welcoming to workers from overseas.

‘Nearly 90% of our researchers at British universities in engineering and science come from overseas and we ought to make them more welcome,’ Dyson said in an interview with Sky News this morning.

‘Nearly half of the undergraduates studying science and engineering are also from outside the EU. If we made them welcome from the very beginning and said that when you've qualified you can stay in Britain and help Britain create interesting products that we can export, rather than dis-encouraging them; they go home and then they become competitors to us,’ he added.

Earlier this year, Dyson announced he is planning to invest £250m to expand Dyson’s company headquarters and quadruple the number of engineers it employs, in the biggest expansion in the vacuum and hand dryer maker’s 20 year history.

Dyson, the company’s founder and MD, wants to double the size of Dyson’s research and development (R&D) centre in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, and hire 3,000 more engineers on top of the 1,000 already employed there.

Dyson has previously criticised Britain’s ‘excessive paperwork’ and ‘strict visa rules’. Foreign students now have to find work within a few weeks of completing their studies or have their visa revoked, under new rules introduced by the government last year.

‘India produces 1.2m engineering graduates a year. The Philippines produces more than us, so does Iran, so does Mexico. It’s not a sustainable situation,’ he said back in September, when announcing 2012 profits had risen 18% to £364m.

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