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5 minute read

Industrial Strategy : reaction from across the sector

Following yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Theresa May on the Government’s action plan for British industry we take a look at the reaction to the “Modern Industrial Strategy“.


Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General

“A modern Industrial Strategy will be a landmark opportunity to build a successful, modern economy as the foundation for a prosperous, fairer and more inclusive society. 

“It must help fix the country’s productivity problems and remove the regional inequalities that have dogged our country for generations, having a positive impact on living standards, wages and the future opportunities of many people.

“The CBI has long-called for a new Industrial Strategy and it’s welcome to see the Government creating an opportunity for all sectors to get involved.

“Our members across every region and nation of the UK will have a fundamental role to play to help shape the thinking and – most importantly – deliver the impact we all want to see.”

Steve Lindsey, CEO of Lontra

“We welcome the modern Industrial Strategy. It’s great to see emphasis on committing to a low-carbon economy, but let’s not forget that this is not only a route for affordable energy and cost-saving but also an opportunity to sell our world-leading energy-efficient innovations and products overseas.”

Martin Doyle, Group MD of the Engineering Technology Group (ETG)

“Initiatives in major manufacturing conurbations, such as that proposed for the Sunderland area and other local enterprise partnerships, are always welcome to give a boost to the engineering and manufacturing sector.

“However, it is important that the job creation opportunities are for genuine ‘new jobs’. There is a yawning skills gap in this country and those looking to get careers in engineering need to be encouraged from the early apprenticeship days, as well as those looking for skills improvement.

“We propose to invest heavily in the training infrastructure available to young people who are the engineers of the future. To this aim, we are helping equip (at our own cost) two major training centres in the Midlands and plan to be working with others around the UK by the year end.

“The Government says it is boosting STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills, digital skills and numeracy, including extending specialist maths schools, while £170m will be invested in creating new institutes of technology. Again all very welcome because young people are aware that there are only so many IT or media jobs these days. They realise that manufacturing represents a rewarding and long term future and governmental initiatives – supported by those in the industry – are the way forward.”

Martin Hurworth, MD of Harvey Water Softeners

“As a bold attempt to move the conversation on from Brexit and lay out what’s next for the country, and what a Government led by Mrs May really looks like, today’s strategy is a welcome announcement. However I think its success still heavily relies on factors outside the UK’s control, namely the ‘divorce’ terms to be negotiated in Brussels and the reception the PM gets in Washington on Friday.

“If they come to fruition, the 10 pillars could be a big step towards addressing the STEM shortage and creating educational parity between university courses and vocational, manufacturing-based apprenticeships. If this really is now at the top of the Government’s agenda then that’s certainly what we, as a mid-sized SME, have been waiting for.

“Giving SMEs better access to new export markets is desperately needed, as is better access to finance. I can’t see much more in today’s strategy beyond what was announced in the Autumn Statement though – however I’m pleased with the focus given to R&D, as we’ve benefited well from R&D tax credits in recent years and that’s really helped us grow.

“I also admire the Government’s approach to tackling the country’s productivity crisis. UK productivity is suffering because of factors outside of individual companies’ control so the detail on infrastructure upgrades given here should be a strong start. Although funding has lagged behind for so many years that it won’t be an easy thing to fix.”

Simon Reid, Partner at LCR4.0 (Liverpool City Region LEP)

“We welcome the Building our Industrial Strategy green paper and fully agree that embracing digitisation is vital if the UK is to continue to compete in a global market within the advanced manufacturing sector.

“It is great to see the government announce further commitment to fostering innovation and providing the right conditions for business growth. Businesses that invest more in R&D, collaborate with academia and export their products not only underpin large parts of our national economy but also help the places around them grow and prosper. The fact that the green paper recognises the significance of 4IR within the context of the UK’s industrial future is great news for advanced manufacturing and for programmes like LCR 4.0 that are designed to support SME adoption of these technologies.

“Of course, there is a lot to be done on a national level and we certainly welcome the government’s commitment to improving skills and infrastructure such as broadband. Sub-standard internet connections – particularly in areas outside of city centres where many manufacturers are located – contribute to the technological lag in the sector. High speed, robust internet connections are required if manufacturers are to fully embrace the opportunities offered by digital innovation.

Tudor Aw, Head of Tech Sector at KPMG UK

“In a post-Brexit era, it is crucial that the UK tech sector is front and centre of the Government’s new industrial policy.  I am therefore delighted to see that key areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, Smart Energy and 5G have been identified as areas that will underpin the Government’s approach.  The hope is that this is just the start and we will see other future disruptive technologies such as Nano technology, autonomous vehicles and IoT/“Connected everything” get similar focus and funding. 

“As has been long recognised, to be successful in tech, we desperately need to upskill our workforce in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects and to see investment in these skills as well as in science, R&D and innovation is hugely promising.”

FDF Director General, Ian Wright CBE

“The Government’s modern industrial strategy is encouraging. It is an important first step which will help the UK’s food and drink manufacturers manage the range of significant economic challenges we currently face. We’re pleased to see measures which support innovation, encourage the development of skills and look to boost trade. These all align with food and drink manufacturers’ ambitions to grow and thrive in the UK.

“Our industry provides great jobs in manufacturing, R&D, food science and logistics – in every region of the UK. Yet we face a looming demographic skills gap, heightened by the threat of losing our valued EU workforce. The emphasis the Government places on developing skills, particularly in STEM subjects and in the new technical colleges, is very welcome.

“FDF has long championed the Government’s Productivity Council and highlighted the need to boost manufacturing productivity as a means of rebalancing the economy. This green paper shows a commitment to supporting growth domestically and abroad. We also welcome the backing for start-up firms, given that over 90 per cent of the businesses in our sector are SMEs.

“We look forward to the launch of the Defra-led Food and Farming plan and urge Government to deliver a joined-up policy approach which considers the UK’s entire food and drink supply chain and ensures our growing population continues to have access to safe, high quality, nutritious and affordable food.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation   

“Today’s announcement sends a strong signal that industry’s calls for a modern, comprehensive and robust industrial strategy have not fallen on deaf ears. The strategic pillars outlined today touch upon some of the key weaknesses, areas of concern and opportunities for business which, if tackled, will provide a huge tonic to Britain’s future economic growth. Government and industry must now work together to meld these pillars into a strategic framework that will deliver measurable, demonstrable results.

“The right industrial strategy will provide the springboard for future British economic success. It must live up to the promise of driving different behaviours and outcomes for the British economy, which requires the whole of Government working together to support it with clear leadership from the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. The fact that the PM has unveiled these plans herself suggests that this message too has successfully landed.”

Damian Hennessey, Director at Proto Labs

“Defining a modern industrial strategy is critical to ensuring we equip a new workforce with the skills it needs to drive the growing digital economy.

A combination of targeted skills training alongside access to advanced technologies such as 3D printing and CNC machining will help to ensure the manufacturing industry creates its own bright digital future.”

Brian Williamson, Managing Director of Jumpstart

“We welcome the government’s continued investment in R&D and innovation, as well as a call to do more to commercialise our world-leading science base and intellectual property.

“Furthermore, a cash injection of over half a billion pounds for the Northern Powerhouse is a welcome announcement, which will help to benefit businesses and people in the north. However, we would be interested in hearing about how the Prime Minister aims to drive innovation and growth throughout the remainder of the UK, as indicated within the Industrial Strategy. We must take into account recent statistics that illustrate investment in R&D is not evenly spread nationwide.”