Summit considers how to boost growth in UK manufacturing

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Manufacturers and government met today at the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Summit to discuss ways of boosting growth in the UK’s manufacturing sector.

Specifically, they looked at how both parties could work together in promoting manufacturing excellence, challenge perceptions of the industry and dispel the belief that Britain does not produce goods.

Will Butler-Adams from Brompton Bikes said: ‘There is a common misconception that there is no manufacturing in the UK, yet we are one of the largest manufacturers in the world; leaders in Formula One (F1), aerospace, defence and, of course, folding bikes to name a few; contributing some 18 per cent GDP.’

Last week, the CBI announced that export orders are driving sustaining growth in the manufacturing sector, a trend that looks set to continue into 2011.

This was echoed by the EEF, whose ‘Economic Prospects 2011’ report shows that growth for the economy is set to be better balanced as investment and net trade start to make sustained contributions.

Despite the relative buoyancy of manufacturing, there is concern that the outdated image of the sector is restricting its ability to attract the best talent, creating a barrier to growth.

To help address these challenges Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have asked UK businesses manufacturing cutting-edge products to let teachers and students visit their premises.

This week-long national event would be the first of its kind and will offer an insight into engineering and manufacturing.

‘Government and industry agree that we have to improve the image of manufacturing if we are to attract the brightest and best into industry,’ said business secretary Vince Cable. ‘Holding a factory doors open week will help us dispel the myth about engineering jobs, and show they are challenging, exciting and well paid.’

In December 2010 the government published a report entitled ‘Growth review framework for advanced manufacturing’, which sought to address barriers to the UK taking a dominant position as an exporter of high-value goods. It also asked what was stopping people following a career in engineering.

Today’s event and responses to the Manufacturing Framework will feed into the Advanced Manufacturing strand of the government’s Growth Review, which will announce policy proposals at the 2011 Budget.