Who is painting the picture for the new framework?

Posted on 4 Nov 2010 by The Manufacturer

With the new Manufacturing Framework due to be announced in the next couple of weeks, Mark Young questions whether industry has had sufficient input.

As you are all probably aware, we have been promised a new ‘Manufacturing Framework’ to replace, or add to at least, 2008’s ‘Manufacturing: New Challenges, New Opportunities’ strategy. The framework has been pencilled in for release in mid to late November and we at The Manufacturer are growing increasingly intrigued about its contents.

A couple of weeks ago, on October 20, we are told than an informal meeting was held where a loose incarnation of what used to be the Ministerial Advisory Group for Manufacturing was shown a draft of the document. The actual Group, which included senior personnel from Nissan, Nestle, GKN and Cobham among others, was disbanded when the Coalition took over and we were told that Business Minister Mark Prisk did not wish for such a sounding board, in a formal capcity at least. However, certain members of the group plus some other prominent faces from the manufacturing circuit have been kept in the address book, if not neccesaarily on speed dial.

It is now our understanding that today, a second, more developed draft of the paper has been sent to this loose band of merry men that BIS calls upon informally to consult.

However, short of a feeling that as a framework rather than a strategy the document will be more focussed on recommending areas where growth can be achieved and include less measurables, per se, we are none the wiser as to what it contains.

A spokesperson for the Department for innovation, Business and Skills could not confirm when the document will be released or anything that it includes. What’s more, they could not confirm the above meeting even took place, let alone who was present. “At this stage there is really nothing to say,” she said. “The document is being drafted up and will be released when it is ready. We don’t provide a running commentary on how things are developing.”

As last week’s newsletter suggested, there is a sense that more input from industry could have helped to form a much more effective Strategic Defence and Security Review, even with the depleted resources left to play with, than the one that was revealed. David Cameron’s Conservatives very much believe in ‘small government’ and the power of the private market to rule its own roost. Industry would indeed welcome less red tape but, as EEF pointed out recently, there has to be joined up thinking between government and industry.

When asked if perhaps the manufacturing framework might benefit from feed in from industry itself, the BIS spokesperson assured us that has indeed been the case, although she could not reveal how this has been conducted.

The summer edition of BIS’ Hot Issues Manufacturing and Materials magazine said the framework “will have a strong sectoral theme, and will provide a fresh approach in addressing the UK’s competitive advantages and weaknesses in manufacturing.”

It then promised further details of ‘stakeholder events’ to be held in September which would help form the framework. We are still unaware over whether these events took place and, if they did, what they included, who attended and how they were chosen. The Internet offers no further information, pre or post any event, and our contact at BIS could make no confirmations either. EEF says it has indeed been consulted, but does not know what the framework will include and doesn’t expect to know until it is published.

We wait, then, with baited breath for the framework, when all contributors and their ideas will surely be revealed.