Speaking to The Manufacturer at the opening of Bloodhound’s new Technology Centre, universities and science minister David Willetts hailed the strength of UK manufacturing and the prospect of large projects coming to British shores.
Mr Willetts said strong manufacturing in the UK was one of the country’s great strengths exemplified by projects like Bloodhound SSC.
“As manufacturing becomes more and more hi-tech then we can look to see very large manufacturing coming to the UK and certainly automotive, ranging from the domestic car through to Formula 1 and this [Bloodhound SSC] is kind of the ultimate. That’s one of our great strengths and we’ve got very strong manufacturing.”
Mr Willetts did not believe there is a lack of jobs in manufacturing and highlighted the desperate need to recruit young engineers as skilled workers reach retirement age.
“There was this pessimistic fear that manufacturing was a declining sector, so there wouldn’t be jobs but we’re proving the opposite is the case. It’s a strong sector and now, as there are many of the skilled workers aged over 50 getting towards retirement age, it’s desperately important that we recruit the younger generation through engineering apprentices.”
“There was this pessimistic fear that manufacturing was a declining sector, so there wouldn’t be jobs but we’re proving the opposite is the case.”
The science minister said Britain could be very proud as a driver of industry at the forefront of automotive engineering.
“This is cutting edge engineering. It remains very important that Britain remains in the lead and we’re the only country to have taken a vehicle through the sound barrier on land. Now we’re setting ourselves the challenge of getting though the 1000mph barrier and it’s going to be done with British engine, British technology and a British driver and that’s something to be very proud of.”
Mr Willetts was pleased to announce a £1m grant for Bloodhound’s education outreach programmes and said the Government was serious about backing science and engineering.
“I’ve been able to announce a further £1m of support today and the Chancellor in his budget has put in more money to British science and engineering so I feel that the community can feel pretty optimistic and buoyant that this government is serious about backing. I’m a believer that we can be a manufacturing power in the 21st century just as we have been in the 19th and 20th.”