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Education, investment & innovation
09 March 2016
Manufacturers are calling on business and government to focus on three key areas of the government’s 15-point Productivity Plan, with education, investment and innovation deemed critical to help the sector increase global competitiveness and make productivity gains, according to a consultation by Siemens UK & Ireland.
‘A Blueprint for the Future of UK Manufacturing’, released by Siemens today brings together the views of almost 80 manufacturers and senior management at 13 Siemens factories in the UK.
The results show that focus on investment in skills & human capital, economic infrastructure and ideas & knowledge should be at the heart of protecting the future success of the nation’s manufacturing industry.
Skills & human capital
Skills remains a key concern, with 73% of organisations stating that training and educating the next generation of manufacturing workforce was the most important measure they would like to see improve across the country. An overwhelming majority (86%) said the UK still needs a greater focus on science, technology, education and maths (STEM) education at both primary and secondary school levels and there was also a desire for improved funding of and process for employing apprentices.
Greater commitment for investment in infrastructure and digital technologies to improve productivity was also high on the agenda. Overwhelmingly, manufacturers fed back that there should be targeted investment at strategically important improvement projects, such as the road network and energy infrastructure. This echoes an EEF report analysing the fourth industrial revolution that also identified the need for the UK to bolster its infrastructure to harness a digital leap forward in manufacturing.
Ideas & knowledge
Manufacturers believe improved support to enable greater collaboration between education and business is crucial. And, in terms of driving innovation through technology, 78% wanted greater access to funding to invest in R&D and other innovative manufacturing techniques and processes. Nearly half (40%) asked for the permanent establishment of R&D tax credits and many called for a reform to business rates to encourage greater investment in plant and equipment.
Commenting on the findings, Brian Holliday, Managing Director – Digital Factory, Siemens UK & Ireland says: “We undertook this consultation to gain an insight into what industry wants the UK to focus on to aid global competitiveness and productivity. Three key areas came to the fore - education, investment and innovation - which align closely with three of the pillars of the UK’s ‘Productivity Plan’. Together, these form a persuasive, insightful and sustainable ‘Blueprint for the Future of UK Manufacturing’ and an achievable template for success.
“UK manufacturing is a critical sector, delivering 11% of national GDP and employing 2.6 million people, it is therefore crucial that its future success is protected. Recent reports from the EEF have shown that manufacturing is key to solving the UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’, so now is the time for action to build upon the good work already underway, and lay a strong foundation from which our innovative manufacturing sector can compete on a global stage once again.”
While investment remains critical, the consultation also showed that manufacturers are already committed to investing in new technologies themselves.
The significant majority (91%) of manufacturers are already deploying automation and control systems to help optimise operational efficiencies and 83% stated a desire to continue to invest in these areas.