EEF kicked off its Manufacturing Week programme of events with the announcement on Monday that UK manufacturing is rising at its fastest rate for 14 years.
This positive news ensured that the programme got off to a flying start, as the national media ran with the story. Chief among the planned events for Manufacturing Week was a debate entitled: “Is manufacturing our future?”
Held at the Jaguar Land Rover plant at Halewood on Merseyside, the event was well attended by representatives of the manufacturing sector from across the North West and produced a lively, thought provoking session that gave manufacturers from around the region a chance to put their sides of the various stories to a panel of experts and influencers.
The eight-strong panel consisted of representatives from all areas of the manufacturing world — from SME’s through global companies to banks and advisory groups.
An electronic voting system was used to give instant feedback on a number of topics, the results providing a general feeling of optimism amongst those present. The questions put to the panel mainly focused on a few key subjects, and served to highlight a number of well known manufacturing concerns covering such as image, funding, education and government intervention.
Much ground was covered, but by far the favourite topic concerned the image that manufacturing has in the greater world and how that can affect all other aspects such as investment, training and attracting the brightest graduates. It was widely agreed that everybody has their parts to play in changing what is an unfairly negative profile. Manufacturers themselves, government, schools and the various development and advisory bodies need to work together on achieving that image shift.
Overall, as one of the electronic votes proved, manufacturing is alive and well in the UK. Recovery from the recent turbulence will be long and slow, but the signs are very positive and the manufacturing sector is determined that it will be the better for it long term.