David Marlow, chief executive of the East of England Development Agency (EEDA), has said the government must invest in the east of England for the UK to remain ahead in manufacturing.
Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference, Marlow told delegates: ‘The manufacturing challenge for the government over the coming period is not just about managing the decline of traditional manufacturing industries, but also about investing in the future success of new sectors, clusters and innovative technologies in the east.’
Marlow’s words follow the vision Gordon Brown set out earlier this week, for the UK to be a world leader in modern manufacturing, by ‘drawing on the talents of all to create British jobs for British workers.’ Another speech at the conference by Barbara Follett, the minister for the east of England, supported EEDA’s case for increased investment.
Although the UK’s labour costs are not as low as the likes of India and China, delegates were told that UK can lead the world when it comes to innovation, technology, and research and development, while retaining its competitive elements of traditional manufacturing.
‘Manufacturing is the second largest industry in the east of England, with more than 18,000 businesses and 600,000 jobs dependent upon the sector,’ said Marlow. ‘What’s more, it is driven by research, innovative technology and continued investment in research and development, and is ready to fully embrace the change towards a low-carbon economy.
‘With this in mind, I call upon the east of England to ensure that the UK remains one of the world’s top manufacturing nations.’