Consultancy company The Work Foundation is today calling upon government to focus its support to the manufacturing industry on firms that mix support services with production.
The organisation has made a report available – Manufacturing and the Knowledge Economy – from its website which says traditional ways of separating manufacturing and services does not now reflect the inter-connected, interdependent nature of modern manufacturing. It points to companies like Rolls-Royce and the pharmaceutical industry as examples where combining service and manufacturing operations boosts profits and business sustainability during tough economic conditions.
Seventy per cent of UK exports come from high to medium tech ‘knowledge economy’ manufacturing sectors, the report reveals.
The Work Foundation is urging government to provide support for short-time working patterns to avoid redundancies and to urge regional development agencies to make manufacturing a higher priority. It says ‘timely, targeted and temporary’ financial support measures like those extended to the banks needs to be offered to manufacturers and “knowledge intensive private sector business is too concentrated in London and the South East”.
Ian Brinkley, associate director at The Work Foundation, said: “The question needs asking – what are we going to live on in the future? Modern manufacturing is once again facing a battering from the recession, but it would be a big mistake just to write the sector off.
“We need to preserve as much of the industrial base as possible because once it is lost it is near impossible to get back again. Despite the mythmaking around the demise of manufacturing, the sector remains extremely important for jobs, exports and GDP.”