UK manufacturers must show foresight
Thursday, 31 October 2013
Business operations must evolve to ensure manufacturing continues to play a powerful role in the UK economy, according to a government report published yesterday
The Future of Manufacturing: A new era of opportunity in the UK, published by the Foresight Programme, part of the Government Office for Science, sets out the challenges that lie ahead for the manufacturing industry, driven by fast-changing technologies and new business methods. The report comes shortly after SMMT announced the highest UK car manufacturing output since 2008.
Automotive manufacturing is crucial to the UK’s economy, generating more than £55bn every year in turnover and employing more than 700,000 people. Figures released earlier this month show that the UK has produced over 1,125,000 cars so far in 2013, up almost four per cent on last year’s output.
According to the report, manufacturing in the UK will undergo significant changes between now and 2050, driven by faster production techniques such as 3D printing and more localised manufacturing. In addition, the growing importance of sustainability will encourage companies into an ever-more efficient use of materials.
In order to fulfil the objectives, an emphasis on skills is required; there will be 800,000 manufacturing jobs to fill before 2020 – something the automotive industry is determined to tackle with initiatives such as See Inside Manufacturing.
Vince Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, said, ‘Britain has a proud manufacturing tradition and the government wants to ensure the sector stays ahead of the curve, leading global innovation and developing, once again, a worldwide appetite for British-made goods. The manufacturing sector is crucial to building a stronger economy – supporting 2.5 million jobs, over half of our exports and about three quarters of research and development. I don’t share the fatalistic view that it will inevitably decline; rather the reverse.
‘The Manufacturing Advisory Service provides advice on financial support for businesses, including the government’s £245m Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative and the £3.2bn Regional Growth Fund. These funds are creating thousands of jobs and leveraging billions of important private sector investment.
‘Through our industrial strategy we are giving businesses and investors the long-term security and confidence they need to invest in the UK and drive growth. Foresight’s strategic analysis is a valuable addition to the information available to government and the industry as we plan for the future.’