Unsurprisingly perhaps, those interviewed were sceptical about Government strategy. To quote Philippa Oldham, Head of Manufacturing at IMechE, “It’s time for the Government to engage with industry now to create a long-term industrial strategy that can put UK manufacturing, once the envy of the world, back on top”.
Sadly, with the Coalition lurching from crisis to crisis, and arguably with few clear long term strategies for most areas of government, it seems unlikely that we’ll see anything worthwhile emerge from the corridors of Whitehall for the foreseeable future. At best, any measures will be piecemeal and short term.
So where does this leave UK manufacturing? Well, pretty much where it has been for the past 30 or more years: on its own.
In many respects, this is no bad thing.
As long as global economic conditions and Government initiatives conspire to create a reasonably stable environment, then manufacturers have control of their destinies. Many of our companies have a wealth of knowledge, skills, resources and an unrivalled ability to innovate, and are already hugely successful on the world stage.
What’s needed from Government – especially if the results from the IMechE survey are representative – are simple but effective long term measures: stimulate investment and growth funding, through a change in taxation, while improving education and skills development to meet the future demands for engineers and scientists.
None of this is difficult but it depends first and foremost on the Coalition paying more than just lip-service to the idea that UK manufacturing is as important to the UK economy as the financial sector.
- U.K. May manufacturing output rises 1.2% (marketwatch.com)
- UK Manufacturing Unexpectedly Surges on Working-Day Boost – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)