UK must ‘adapt to manufacturing revolution’

himark300Businesses and government must adapt to ensure manufacturing continues to play a powerful role in the UK economy, or they risk being left behind by international competitors, says to a new report published today.

‘The Future of Manufacturing: A new era of opportunity and challenge for the UK’ published by Foresight in the Government Office for Science, states that manufacturing is set to enter a dynamic new phase, driven by rapid changes in technology, new ways of doing business, and potential volatility around the price and availability of resources.

The report, which points out that manufacturing accounts for more than half of the UK’s exports (53%) and around three quarters of business research and development (72%), emphasises that economies with strong, export-led manufacturing sectors typically recover from recessions more quickly than those countries without equivalent sectors.

Looking out to 2050, it says the industry will change considerably by becoming faster, more responsive and closer to customers and about more than just making and selling a product. New sources of revenue will become important, says the report, with production and technical know-how critical. Manufacturers will need to become more efficient in their use of materials and energy and more highly skilled.

The report urges government to build on existing initiatives, for example by scaling up funding for the High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centre, the UK’s key technology and innovation body for manufacturing.

The report also highlights three new areas for government action: Better intelligence, better targeting of support and better capability.

Commenting on the Foresight report EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler said: “We strongly support the recommendations to increase support for the Catapult centres and expand SME access to them, and the focus on new sources of finance.” He added that the report was a “must-read for manufacturers to ensure that they too are prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead”

This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.

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About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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