Manufacturing needs a coherent industrial strategy from Government

Manufacturers’ organisation the EEF is calling on the UK Government to speed up plans for the introduction of a consistent and coherent long-term industrial strategy to ensure that manufacturers’ growth ambitions are fully supported across the pre- and post-EU membership.

 

It is based on a recent study a study – Manufacturing Ambitions: an industrial strategy for a stronger economy – showing that that three quarters of manufacturers are going for growth, while seven in ten have a three to five-year business plan in place to back up their ambitions. The sector already has a strong track record on productivity and, promisingly, there is every indication that this is set to continue. Almost two thirds of firms are focussed on driving up productivity.

 

The report welcomes the fact that a UK-wide industrial strategy is back on the Government’s table and says that it must clearly set out the Government’s goals for growth, backed by policies which deliver a more skilled workforce; more resilient infrastructure; a lower cost of doing business and better support for growing businesses.

 

Innovation and the introduction of new business models are coming to the fore as companies pursue growth. Most firms are either already increasing innovation efforts or plan to do so within the timeframe of their current business plan. Manufacturers have also been quick to identify growth opportunities from servitisation (providing services to complement product sales). Over four in ten are already actively providing services

 

Supply chain collaboration

Supply chain collaboration is, however, seen as even more critical to growth, with over half of manufacturers already enhancing cooperation in areas such as production, design and development and a further quarter planning to do so. The depth of collaboration may be a surprise to those outside of industry, with over two-thirds of manufacturers already working with their supply chain on product design and development.

 

While identifying some strong positives, the report also points out that the current trajectory of manufacturers’ business plans still falls short of where the sector needs to be by 2026. And, while companies can innovate and work hard to tackle many of the internal and supply chain challenges they face, creating the right business environment through an ambitious, comprehensive and long-term industrial strategy spanning all Government departments will be critical to support growth.

 

Post EU

“We need to get this right and we need to get this in place now so that manufacturers’ growth ambitions are supported across the pre- and post-Brexit divide. It is not enough to talk about an industrial strategy – it is time for the Government to draw a line under the stop-go efforts of the past and to demonstrate its commitment to industry by putting some much-needed flesh on the bones.

 

According to EEF, “Manufacturers are not just talking about future growth – they have firm plans in place to make it happen. Their ambition and drive will help get the sector and our economy on the road to stronger, better-balanced growth, but this must be matched by Government. If we are to stay the distance and realise the full benefits for the UK then complacency is not an option.

 

The full report

Manufacturing Ambitions: an industrial strategy for a stronger economy – can be downloaded here

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