Sustainability warning for industrial sector

Posted on 16 Sep 2015 by Fred Tongue

The industrial sector has been given a stern warning about sustainability ahead of a new report due out in October.

The Manufacturing Commission has issued four ‘strategic alerts’ to the industrial sector after discovering barriers to sustainability, ahead of the final inquiry report.

The inquiry looks at the obstacles that the industrial sector faces and needs to overcome in order to ensure long term sustainability economically, ecologically and socially.

The alerts come after a steering group chaired by former Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science and Digital Infrastructure, Chi Onwurah MP, and Professor Steve Evans from the University of Cambridge.

The steering group focused on sustainability including issues such as dwindling natural resources to the long term skills base needed to help British manufacturing grow in the future.

The final finding is due to be published on 27 October, but the alerts and trends that have been highlighted so far include:

  • UK manufacturers face challenges to the future supply of critical materials, which may threaten national security
  • Further devolution of powers could be a barrier to a more sustainable system
  • The UK needs to close the gap between the worst and best performers on non-labour productivity to make a meaningful difference
  • Transitioning to a sustainable industrial system depends on the leadership of UK manufacturing companies, and of UK government

Inquiry co-chair,  Onwurah commented: “This inquiry is essential in determining what needs to be done to secure the future of manufacturing in the UK.

While the sector consists of a smaller proportion of the overall economy than in years past, it is absolutely vital that our ability to make things – and to make them well – is made stronger and more resilient in an increasingly volatile world.

The MP continued: “The UK gave birth to the industrial revolution, but we are an island nation, faced with increasing competition from abroad and increasing pressures being put on the planet. Business as usual cannot continue if we are to remain in the game.

“These initial findings demonstrate that there are real dangers for our economy and even our national security if we do not take the appropriate steps to transform our industrial system. Thankfully, with government and industry working together, we have the capacity to do so, and will be made evident when our final report is published in October.”

Professor Steve Evans added: “We have learnt that the UK has many world leading companies who are making themselves more efficient, more resilient and more profitable by using sustainability for competitive advantage.

“But there are many more laggards and not enough leaders to make a difference to the national economy. Industry and government will share the benefits of a resilient and efficient industrial system and must work in harmony to make sure that these benefits are delivered.”