Manufacturing in the UK
The Telegraph is running a week-long analysis of British manufacturing. In the UK, the nation responsible for the spinning jenny, steam engine and telephone, manufacturing is in fashion again, according to the piece. Despite the weakened pound, the coalition Government is asking Britain's manufacturers to support growth with exports. Leaders David Cameron, George Osborne and Vince Cable are encouraging the nation's young people to contribute their talents to this economy-shaping industry.
The UK is home to such iconic industry leaders as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Jaguar Land Rover and drug group GlaxoSmithKline. The country still enjoys a major presence in aerospace, defense, high-performance cars – including all but three of the Formula 1 teams – and the life sciences. But the manufacturing sector isn't what once was. Several recessions, powerful unions and a strong pound have eroded the UK's industrial base through the seventies, eighties, nineties and first decade of the 21st century. There is competition from lower-cost, high-resource nations, such as China. And Britain's manufacturing sector has declined faster than some other developed economies, partly as a result of management decisions by some key players, which helped to hasten the demise of major firms.
The Sunday Telegraph put together an expert panel to address the challenges associated with getting manufacturing back on track. The recommendations were clear: investing in education and advanced research are key to creating a thriving manufacturing base for the 21st century. Targets for government incentives include offshore wind, low-carbon automotive technology, microprocessors and pharmaceuticals.
Dick Olver, BAE chairman and a member of the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Group, believes that the UK needs to uphold its leadership position, and advised the following strategy: "The G8, G20 and our relationship with the United States – all of those things should be guarded by every bone in our body. If we can improve our influence in the world, that is incredibly synergistic to our ability to grow our economy. The strategic investment that is made by the Government in defence and security is something to do with what they need tomorrow morning, but it is far more strategic than that. It's strategic in R&D, skills and our influence in the world. The synergies it brings helps SMEs and other exports."