Industry responds to the Industrial Strategy – one year on

Posted on 20 Sep 2013

Leading manufacturing companies and stakeholders react to the progress of the Industrial Strategy, one year after it was launched by government

Business Secretary Vince Cable and the CBI revealed the progress of the Government’s Industrial Strategy on September 11 at the University of Warwick.

Is the Strategy delivering? Here industry leaders, engineers and experts share their thoughts on how the UK’s Industrial Strategy is shaping up.

Marcus Bryson, CEO, GKN Aerospace and Land Systems

Marcus Bryson, CEO, GKN Aerospace and Land Systems
Marcus Bryson, CEO, GKN Aerospace and Land Systems

“The Aerospace Industrial Strategy, developed by the Aerospace Growth Partnership, was the culmination of two years of incredibly hard work by ministers, civil servants and industry.

“Having got a great strategy in place in March, we are now working together to deliver on our commitments on the Aerospace Technology Institute, improving the competitiveness of the supply chain and our manufacturing capability, and on skills and young people.

“No easy task, but in continued partnership with government we are confident that we can grasp the huge opportunity for growth which exists in aerospace and secure a healthy future for our industry for many decades to come.”

Jon Bolton, Director of Tata Steel’s Long Products Hub, President of UK Steel

Jon Bolton, Tata Steel Long Products
Jon Bolton, Tata Steel Long Products

“Greater effort is needed to increase independence between our firms and make sure British industry is more self-reliant. Therefore, it is essential that the right conditions are in place to make sure our foundation industries remain competitive and able to underpin our future industrial production.

“The CBI is right to highlight the need for more action to improve supply chains.

“They have found that secure supply chains are important for future growth plans for more than three quarters of British companies. As a foundation industry, steel will continue to play a key strategic role in any sustainable revival of UK manufacturing. That is why it is vital that targeted action is taken to identify supply chain weaknesses and tap the many opportunities that remain in the automotive, aerospace, offshore wind and nuclear industries.

“Tata Steel runs one of the country’s biggest apprenticeship schemes and work closely with universities to develop the next generation of engineers; and we invest millions each year in research and development to produce materials our customers demand.

“So as well as focusing on gaps in the UK’s manufacturing supply chains, an equal government focus is required on the sustainability of foundation industries if the economic benefit they provide is not to be lost further down the supply chain.”

Richard Martin, Chief Engineer, Nestlé UK & Ireland

Richard Martin, Nestle UK
Richard Martin, Nestle UK

“I was encouraged by the consensus at the conference that the Government has a role to play in the Industrial Strategy of the UK and this will help to grow the UK Manufacturing sector and rebalance the economy. This approach needs to be consistently applied over many years regardless of who is in government. This will give UK manufacturing the confidence to invest.

“The food and drink sector is the biggest in the UK but progress has been disappointing so far. There are great opportunities to create growth in this sector and one of the key challenges is skills. The industry has recently launched a new masters degree in food engineering at Sheffield Hallam University.

“The curriculum was designed by the industry, for the industry and this shows the food and drink sector is taking its responsibility to encourage talent into our industry very seriously. By offering a bursary of £2,500 to each one of the 40 students who will start the course in 2014, we are encouraging young people to consider an engineering career in the food and drink sector, where they will find many examples of world class engineering and technology.

“In addition Nestlé launched its own Academy in 2011 where we are tackling the industry skills issue at all levels – apprentices, graduates and our Fast Start programme – opening up education to those who may never have seen a degree as an option for them.”

Martin Fausset, Managing Director, Ricardo UK

Martin Fausset, Ricardo UK
Martin Fausset, Ricardo UK

“I am generally positive about the Government’s industrial strategy, and I would completely agree with Vince Cable’s view that essentially, this is a marathon and not a sprint. It is particularly welcome to see the Government engaging with industry to address key issues such as skills development.

“Ricardo is benefitting from a range of initiatives. For example, we were successful in a bid to the Regional Growth Fund for support in the development of a new £10 million low carbon vehicle research facility at our Shoreham site.

“We are also leading a collaborative project which aims to deliver a step-change improvement in the ability of the UK supply chain to develop low cost, safety critical automotive embedded software systems; work which is benefiting from grant funding under the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative.

“We appreciate all state-backed support but the rules for the provision of state aid need to be clear and not unduly constraining.

“Furthermore, government and industry alike must recognise that the UK exists within the EU market and competes globally, meaning that our national industrial strategy must be seen in relation to and must be as good as those of Germany, China and our many other international competitors.”

For a multidisciplinary firm like Arup, the Industrial Strategy covers many of the areas that are vital to our business. The Information Economy, where Arup is at the forefront of creating the new generation of Smart Cities; Professional Services, such as the design and transaction advice skills we export across the world; Life Science Research, a sector in which Arup’s technical design skills and management expertise have contributed greatly; and, of course, Construction, which forms the bread and butter of much of our everyday work.

Ron Augustyn, Managing Director, Leyland Trucks

“I’ve been impressed with the progress made thus far on the Industrial Strategy and I think the initiative will benefit UK businesses. I was pleased to be invited to the BIS/CBI conference and I think the event demonstrates the mutual cooperation between government, business and education.”

Harry Swan, Managing Director, Thomas Swan & Co

Harry Swan, Managing Director, Thomas Swan

“I have now attended two BIS Industrial Strategy conferences and I’m encouraged by the realisation from Ministers that manufacturing and wealth creation is vital to rebalance and grow the UK’s economy. The UK has a unique and valuable capability to innovate, create and engineer remarkable products.

“Looking forward I hope to see the discussion turned into actions but in a collaborative way. Industry needs to do its part and not expect government to come up with all of the answers. The achievements of the Automotive Council demonstrate the power of this collaborative model and I look forward to seeing similar results within the chemicals sector.

“Chemicals underpin many of these downstream growth industries and we (the chemicals sector) must position ourselves to deliver the right products at the right price to these customers. There is much to do but it will be made easier with a co-ordinated, supported and overarching strategy that is set in stone and carried through successive governments. It is an exciting time for the UK but only if we stick to the plan and carry it through.”

Dorrien Peters, Legal Director, DLA Piper

Dorrien Peters, legal director, DLA Piper
Dorrien Peters, legal director, DLA Piper

“While the progress we have made in the last year is encouraging, there is still much to do to ensure that the economy is rebalanced for the long term. The incentives for investment and innovation across the eight technologies and 11 key sectors that the government has targeted will continue to move the economy in the right direction.

“However we still have not seen enough progress in the vital areas of education and skills or access to finance. Here we are lagging behind our competitors and are still relying on UK plc to do the heavy lifting without much direct support from Government.”

Tony Broughton, Head of UK Operations at AstraZeneca

Tony Broughton, Astra Zeneca
Tony Broughton, Astra Zeneca

“The Government should be commended for taking a proactive approach and for the way it’s looking to partner with industry to support the growth agenda. It makes sense that they are working on specific high potential sectors and the emphasis on skills is critical and should be sustained.

“However, pharmaceutical manufacturing is not included as one of the high potential sectors in the Industrial Strategy, nor is it directly addressed in any of the 31 Life Sciences Strategy measures.

“The Life Sciences Strategy acknowledges the contribution that Pharmaceutical manufacturing makes (accounting for 11% of exports in 2011), so there should be renewed focus to incentivise and grow investment and innovation in pharma manufacturing.

“We welcome the commitment made at the Industrial Strategy conference to stick with the current industry programmes for the long-term, so that they work beyond the political cycle. We agree that momentum is lost when industry programmes are changed too frequently and industry can’t keep track of the changes.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of manufacturers’ body EEF

Terry Scuoler, EEF Chief Executive

“The UK economy appears to be off the critical list again with a whole range of economic data pointing to a strengthening recovery across all sectors and improving labour market conditions. However policy makers must maintain a relentless focus on pro-growth actions if we are to achieve a more balanced and long-lasting recovery.

“Looking at six of the largest developed economies, the UK ranks fourth in the contribution of both investment and exports to growth. Our report data with Oxford Economics also shows that our competitors are making greater progress.”

The challenge is a significant as demonstrated by the fact that, in terms of investment as a share of the economy, the UK stands 159th in the world.

EEF’s report The Route to Growth – An Industrial Strategy for A Stronger, Better Balanced Economy set out 10 challenges for government. There is still a lot to do; only four out of the 10 measures we set out look likely to be achieved by 2015.

“Mixed with this is some positive policy progress. The Spending Review addressed two key priorities – access to specialised equipment and expertise to help companies develop new technology and SME access to finance for innovation.“

David Keene, Chairman of RDM Group, a manufacturer of components for the automotive, medical and telematics industries

RDM owner and managing direct David Keene

“A decision by the last government in 2009/10 to form the UK Automotive Council has paid dividends in producing a coherent strategy for government and the industry. This strategy was continued by the current government and has grown in the scope of the work, resulting in joined up funding and support to strategic areas of the sector.

“Several key areas where the UK could become world leaders were identified early on and around each a clear strategy was developed. A combination of both government and industry representatives worked on it and continue to work on its implementation.

“This ‘joined up’ approach has definitely impacted on the industry in a positive way and, although there is still much more to do, the automotive industry is currently in a renaissance.

“So what do we see at the grassroots level for an automotive SME in the supply chain?

“The UK Automotive Council has certainly shaped the funding landscape and priorities for government which it implements pretty much through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). Funding calls and competitions through TSB and through others such as the LEPs are clearly focussed on developing the supply chain of the future and promoting long term skilled manufacturing jobs.”

Duncan White, Science and Industry Business Leader, Arup UK 

Duncan White, Arup

“In each of the 11 sectors covered by the Industrial Strategy, the basic idea of creating partnerships between Government and business to support emerging technologies; improve access to finance and to build skills for the future must make sense.

“Quite rightly, the Secretary of State has been crystal clear that this is not about ‘picking winners’. But if we want to build a robust, competitive economy and tackle the country’s debt, then quite simply we all need work together to boost jobs, growth and investment.

“The Industrial Strategy can help align common objectives in vital areas.  We would be keen to see a continued emphasis on those elements of the strategy which focus on delivering measurable benefits for the UK economy such as the targeted policy interventions that encourage global companies to invest in the UK, the focus on the development of sustainable and advanced technology products and materials, and the emphasis on a skilled and flexible workforce.”