Bringing it all back home

Delegates to this week’s National Manufacturing Conference will hear how British firms are increasingly moving production back to the UK

The prospect of bringing overseas production back home – or re-shoring as it’s known – is  a long-held dream for many  British manufacturers. But despite plenty of talk over the last decade or so, the lure of low-labour cost economies has been too enticing, and there have been precious few examples of engineering firms reversing this powerful global trend. Until now.

Visitors to this week’s annual EEF National Manufacturing Conference – which is being held on Tuesday 4th March at London’s QEII Conference Centre – will hear from speakers including Business Secretary Vince Cable, Ken Clarke, and GKN CEO  Nigel Stein about the increasing number of firms that are now moving production back to Britain. During the conference, Cable is expected to announce that more funding will be provided to help firms bring manufacturing back to the UK.

Best done locally

The conference coincides with a report – published  today by EEF and legal firm Squire Sanders – showing that 1 in 6 companies have re-shored production in-house in the last three years.

Also under the microscope this week is the no less emotive topic of flood defence – an issue that has dominated national discussions over the past few weeks.

MPs will meet today (Monday 3rd March ) to discuss  a report, published last July by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, which recommended that flood management capital funding must rise year on year by £20m over the next 25 years to keep pace with increasing flood threat; and that adequate revenue funding be provided to enable the Environment Agency to conduct necessary dredging and maintenance of watercourses.

Finally, it’s national apprenticeship week – the annual effort to raise the profile of apprenticeships  – through a series of nationwide events aimed at both businesses, students, and teachers.

Few would dispute the organiser’s claim that apprenticeships are a good thing for business and apprentices alike, although given that apprenticeship schemes in the engineering sectors are regularly oversubscribed,  it is to be hoped that this week’s events play a role in encourage more businesses to offer apprenticeships.

With a report out today from the City & Guilds group arguing that men are more than twice as likely to be encouraged to take apprenticeships as women inititiative aimed at encouraging female apprentices would seem to be particularly important.

The report’s findings support recent research by the TUC and the National Apprenticeship Service which found that although more and more women are starting apprenticeships, gender stereotyping is dissuading young women from pursuing careers in traditionally male industries.