CBI must not reject ‘traditional’ manufacturing, warns EEF

Business leaders should not neglect traditional manufacturers in their rush to heap praise on so-called ‘future technologies’, the CBI was told this week.

Business leaders should not neglect traditional manufacturers in their rush to heap praise on so-called ‘future technologies’, the Confederation of British Industry was told this week.

The Engineering Employers’ Federation expressed support for the CBI’s Manufacturing Report, published as part of a new campaign to highlight the plight of manufacturing, but warned there was a danger of seeing traditional sectors as less important than newer industries such as telecommunications and biotechnology.

In the report, the CBI says manufacturing is at a crossroads with companies moving away from low-cost, low-value areas into high value-added products and processes. The CBI’s director-general, Digby Jones, said the government should not be using public money to prop-up trad-itional manufacturing firms.

But the EEF said that by only focusing on high-value sectors such astelecommunications, Britain risked ‘throwing the baby out with the bath-water’, by ignoring profitable industries merely because they were not perceived as sufficiently ‘sexy’ or high-tech.

An EEF spokesman said experience in the US showed that given the right conditions and policies, good businesses in all sectors could prosper. ‘There are many good companies in so-called ‘traditional sectors’ which are just as important to the UK economy. We must ensure they are not neglected,’ he said.