Green-eyed vision

The UK government has identified the low-carbon economy, apprenticeships and improved technology networks as some of the key factors for maintaining a successful manufacturing sector in the UK.

The UK government has unveiled ‘New Challenges, New Opportunities’, a strategy to help UK firms take advantage of changing global trends in manufacturing.

The strategy brings together almost £150m of medium-term support for UK manufacturing and sets out the government’s view of what the sector needs for success in the long term.

It includes seizing the opportunities of the low-carbon economy, which in the next decade could see up to 260,000 jobs created in the nuclear and renewable energy sectors alone, and supporting skills via the creation 1,500 new manufacturing apprenticeships.

Similarly, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will allocate additional resources to target a package of support for 600 UK companies to identify manufacturing value chain opportunities in India and China.

The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK-IPO) will advise on using and protecting IP in these markets.

In the West Midlands, a new Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry will have industrial-scale pre-production and demonstration facilities, which could lead to £130m of investment in business-led applied research and its exploitation over the next 10 years.

The Technology Strategy Board will invest £24m into research central to high-value-added manufacturing.

John Hutton, UK secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, said: ‘Manufacturing is central to the success of the UK economy and it is vital the sector has the right foundations to endure the current economic slowdown and emerge stronger and fitter than ever.

‘We are the world’s sixth-largest manufacturer – the industry accounts for over half our exports, contributes £150bn to the economy and around three million jobs.

‘But we need to recognise that the global landscape is changing so we can help UK manufacturers stay ahead of the game.

‘I want the UK to be at the forefront of opportunities opened up by the move towards a low-carbon economy. With the right support in place, we can grow our nuclear and renewables industries to become world leaders in green technologies.’

The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) has welcomed the government’s announcement.

‘The UK has a strong manufacturing tradition and the aerospace and defence industry is an unsung success story in continuing that history today,’ said Ian Godden, SBAC chief executive.

He added: ‘However, for the sector to be able to continue this success into the future then the right environment for it to flourish has to be created.

‘We therefore welcome the government’s attention on the manufacturing sector and congratulate secretaries of state Hutton and Denham for their support.

‘In particular, we welcome the focus on low-carbon technologies, skills and the global market.

‘Aerospace and defence has a turnover that tops £20bn and brings in more than £2bn net per year to the UK due to its success in exports, as well as employing more than a quarter of a million highly skilled people.

‘The UK industry will need more of such skilled people in the future to maintain its global position. The strategy’s focus chimes strongly with the priorities of the aerospace and defence industry.’