Ministers must address a shortfall in spending on research and skills if the UK is to grow its manufacturing base, according to a new Labour Party commissioned report.
The Wright Review of Advanced Manufacturing in the UK and its Supply Chain, headed up by Jaguar Land Rover executive director Mike Wright, states the UK needs to strengthen its advanced manufacturing capabilities.
In the event of Ed Miliband’s Labour forming a government after the 2015 General Election, Mr Wright has urged the party to formulate a long-term industrial policy rather than the short-termist approach that Mr Wright says has proved damaging to UK manufacturing.
While the report highlighting the UK’s success in industries such as automotive and aerospace, it also criticises a lack of investment in vital areas including research and skills.
“We’ve made really good progress if you take the automotive sector and see how that has been turned around in the last few years. But the job isn’t finished,” he said.
“Other countries see this sector as equally important and are pouring massive political and economic resources into improving their competitiveness.”
The report also highlighted the need to further reshore the UK’s manufacturing supply chain while reiterating the importance of the country remaining part of the European Union.
It puts forward a case for the establishment of a British Business Bank to offer an alternative to the funding available in the commercial banking sector.
The report was welcomed by the Confederation of British Industry, with its deputy director-general Katja Hall believing the report shines a spotlight on the importance of advanced manufacturing to the UK.
“Manufacturing creates high-quality, skilled jobs up and down the country, and has seen robust growth recently,” she said.
“It has also played an important role in rebalancing the economy, ramping up exports and attracting significant investment, although we can’t take this for granted.”
Ms Hall added: “We welcome the idea of testing all policy decisions through the lens of investment priorities, and placing a strategic, long-term emphasis on industrial strategy and innovation.
“Mike Wright’s report addresses a wide range of issues facing the UK’s manufacturing sector, and is a challenge to all political parties to ensure it continues to fire on all cylinders.”