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Midland manufacturers continue to react to the Government’s plans to boost the economy with their Industrial Strategy green paper.
The UK’s first and only specialist in the heat treatment of aluminium alloys, Alloy Heat Treatment acknowledge that the pillars are aimed at improving British manufacturing activity with an added emphasis on the role of the government.
Alloy Heat are based in Dudley, West Midlands and holds NADCAP, AS 9100 accreditation, and preferred supplier status to many aerospace primes. Their on site specialists can give advice on materials, treatments and surface engineering, preferably at the design stage.
Managing Director, Adrian Church explained: “If we really are serious about driving growth across the country and creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places, then there has to be some form of agreement by our manufacturers to develop in this country the opportunities that arise from the government's investment.
“It would be pointless to improve innovation, infrastructure, STEMs etc and then develop manufacturing in the cheapest possible place. Without such an understanding, there is no hope of driving growth across the whole Country.”
The paper establishes how the government aim to provide support to businesses by addressing regulatory barriers, agreeing trade deals and creating institutions that encourage innovation and skills development within the manufacturing sector. Theresa May explained that if businesses want higher prosperity, wages and opportunities for young people then they will have to raise productivity.
Technical Director, Mark Percox added: “How is the government going to deliver its 10 point plan. E.g. strategy, cost, tools and timing? It will take much longer than two years to rebuild our manufacturing centres and put us back on the serious exporters map, especially as a number of our significant foreign investors are already getting itchy feet over Brexit.
“My gut feeling is that the government’s offerings will be like comparing drops in the ocean when it comes to stumping-up the cash that is required to implement the Ten Point Plan.”
Salop Design and Engineering Director addresses skills and procurement
Made in the Midlands President and the Commercial Director of Salop Design and Engineering, Christopher Greenough also believes that consistent support from the central government will lead to future growth within the Midlands region.
Salop Design is part of a consortium which recently secured a £1.9m contract via the Marches LEP’s Growth Deal with Government to launch a brand new £3m Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT). The Centre aims to support 2,020 learners between now and 2020 which will largely involve developing apprentices in advanced manufacturing and engineering. The Centre will play an integral role in giving employers a strong pool of skills to tap into if they aim to compete globally.
Greenough responded to the pillar of developing skills, by stating: “Let business take the lead in training. The apprenticeship levy is a good start, but do not just pump more money into colleges and training provision, without engaging business. It is their money that will fund the next generation of learners. I offer the invite to the PM to come and see what we are doing to close the skills gap with our Marches LEP in Shropshire. We have a blueprint that is now through the ITAS centre at Salop Design proven and working.”
Furthermore, Greenough encouraged that the strategy is continually updated with the latest information and technology considered, as Industry 4.0 sweeps across the manufacturing industry. He added that the government and education system need to formulate a way to get all of the STEM subjects back into schools.
The government have also laid out plans to improve government procurement across industry to drive innovation and develop the UK supply chains. Greenough concluded: “Public procurement needs to learn tough lessons from private business. Efficiencies and best practice is what we do best. Private business cannot afford to waste time and money procrastinating - so, a plan would be to engage with business and make sure the public sector are held more accountable for their procurement procedures and decisions.”
Evidently, leading manufacturers are supportive of the proposed changes from the government, yet remain skeptical of the actual implementation of the ideas. Collaboration from the government, education system and manufacturers will be central to the overall success of the green paper. Additionally, the government will need to supply sufficient funding to the ideas to create the proposed environment required for British manufacturers to thrive and prosper in a post-Brexit Britain.