Government's industrial strategy uk manufacturing

How the Government’s industrial strategy could help UK manufacturers

I was invited on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show today to talk about the announcement of the Government’s green paper on its industrial strategy

Firstly, anything that brings UK manufacturing to the forefront can only be a good thing. So we’re definitely moving in the right direction. But what are the big things that the Government needs to address in this industrial strategy in order to make British manufacturing great again?

Skills & training One of the biggest things that needs serious funding behind it is the lack of skilled staff in many manufacturing sectors. One of the biggest problems facing the UK manufacturing industry is the fact many sectors currently look to Europe for the staff that have the skills – and that may not be so easy after Brexit. We’ll need to invest in training and make sure that the funding goes directly to those that need it – not just on creating courses that aren’t relevant.

Attracting young people into manufacturing We need to make manufacturing sexy again to attract young people into the industry. The next generation will be the factory managers of the future. But unless we can convince them that it is better to work in manufacturing than in an office or a shop we’ll have no chance. And that education needs to start at school and with the parents. I also think that a reality TV show involving manufacturing wouldn’t be a bad thing…but that’s not one for the Government! Manufacturing is not just in the North Yes the Industrial Revolution started in the North, and there are some fantastic manufacturing plants in the top half of the country. But there are also some great factories and makers in the South too. The high-end fashion manufacturing sector, which supplies the majority of London Fashion Week, is predominantly based in London. These companies have different challenges to those in the North, such as rising rent and rates, and they shouldn’t be forgotten about because they don’t make up part of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Fair trade deals with overseas suppliers Let’s not forget that a vast proportion of the raw materials that our manufacturers use are imported. There are very few products that can count themselves as 100% British. Good negotiations with our overseas suppliers needs to be top of the Government’s Brexit strategy in order that industry here can thrive. It’s not just about the shiny boys toys All too often when there is talk of industry with the Government they talk about cars and planes. But manufacturing has a softer side too. The UK textile industry exported over £8bn worth of product last year. Yet because it is made up of 1000s of micro businesses employing 10 people or less, it doesn’t get on the Government’s radar. Let’s hope there is a place for it in their industrial strategy.

You can see the full green paper on the Government’s industrial strategy here.

5 Responses

  1. UK manufacturers are having a difficult time in recruiting young people into manufacturing. This cannot change in the near future as more and more we are developing the culture that those individuals that do not go to universities are failing. Schools, government and particularly universities are encouraging this. As a management consultant I see the working conditions that we expect these young school leavers to work in. 50 years ago I started on the shop floor and this was accepted by most of my school friends. Would I stand at a lathe all day today and for minimum wage. Not a chance. This is why we will continue to require emigrants, albeit controlled.

  2. UK manufacturers are having a difficult time in recruiting young people into manufacturing. This cannot change in the near future as more and more we are developing the culture that those individuals that do not go to universities are failing. Schools, government and particularly universities are encouraging this. As a management consultant I see the working conditions that we expect these young school leavers to work in. 50 years ago I started on the shop floor and this was accepted by most of my school friends. Would I stand at a lathe all day today and for minimum wage. Not a chance. This is why we will continue to require emigrants, albeit controlled.

  3. I am a UK childrens clothing brand proudly making in the UK, using what skill remains from a forgotten industry replaced by overconsumption of cheap imports.
    This is not just about focussing on new skills training to regenerate manufacturing in the UK, but celebrating quality handmade workmanship and traditional skills.
    In an age of tech we need to readdress the balance : for the economy , for a more soulful approach to how we consume, and to renew skills which make feel good about that we can achieve.

  4. David Reay says:

    I recently founded the Northern Clothing and Textiles Network in Newcastle http://www.northernclothing.org.uk to support the development of small high growth brands in the sector, we have quickly developed a business community that to some degree self supports.
    One big challenge to the survival and growth of what are potentially disruptive and exciting developments is the need to repair/re-establish opportunities with UK manufacture – Local for Local.
    I continually see problems when these businesses try to engage with Asia in their early stages, many issues arise – beginning with the relative disinterest from most manufacturers to engage with growing small volumes, and often end with communication breakdown, failure costs that hinder and in most cases ruin small companies.

    I have had a lifetime in clothing manufacture, starting from the early days of high volume UK manufacture, progressing through the building of factories, sourcing and supply chains, in developing countries, on a massive scale.
    I returned to this country to rebuild and re-inforce J Barbour’s manufacturing strategies. The knock on results of UK driven strategy bears out in the high level of growth and measurable results in the public domain.

    It is my firm belief that the establishment of hands on apprenticeships should be properly managed and strategically directed, and proper account being taken of the competitive landscape driven by the exchange rates. These actions support the challenge of the country’s exit from EU control. The of building a small but strong network of home grown production units within the UK to support growth may not be a headline grabber but will be as important an investment as the high profile ones.

  5. Inga says:

    this sector is not attractive for young people and it will not unless they can earn more than minimum wage! It does not matter how many courses be run, no one be proud to earn Minimum Wage!
    I am in the industry for over 10 years working for LFW designers. My business have rising cost of rent and others rates. Designers looking to make their garments abroad becouse of the cost only. I employ high skilled people and never had complain about quality of even very complicated garments made. However I still not able to pay my employees more than minimum wage becouse of my business cost. I am not proud about it

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