What impact is government’s latest industrial strategy like to have?

Stephen Robertson

Stephen Robertson

The Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled her plans for the UK’s industrial strategy this week.

The plan is designed to boost the UK economy post-brexit and comes at a time when leaders in the South West are mapping out the region’s very own industrial strategy.

Responding to the publication, Stephen Robertson, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership said: “We are very pleased to see the Industrial Strategy and are already preparing a response to the Green Paper through a review of our own West of England economic strategy, including an in-depth analysis and assessment of relevant data.

“This will form the basis of our formal response to Government, setting out the strengths of the West as England economy.

“We are already an ambitious and productive region, our task now is to build on our strengths and provide sustainable and inclusive economic growth into the future, making the most of the opportunities the Industrial Strategy presents.”

Stephen says the West of England LEPs refreshed strategy will respond to the Industrial Strategy, setting out how the economy can continue to grow.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, comments: “Today’s announcement sends a strong signal that industry’s calls for a modern, comprehensive and robust industrial strategy have not fallen on deaf ears.

“The right industrial strategy will provide the springboard for future British economic success. It must live up to the promise of driving different behaviours and outcomes for the British economy, which requires the whole of Government working together to support it with clear leadership from the Prime Minister and her Cabinet.

“The fact that the PM has unveiled these plans herself suggests that this message too has successfully landed.”

Phil Smith

Phil Smith

Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West, comments:  “Industrial strategies have come and gone over the years, and few have really had any lasting effect because they have lacked support from the government.

“However, the latest announced today by the Prime Minister at her first cabinet meeting outside London – in Warrington – seems to have at its heart perhaps the greatest challenge we have in UK industry – the lack of skills development.

“The government’s Green Paper talks of a string of new Institutes of Technology in England and Wales for students from 16-19 years of age. Students will get solid trade skills -particularly in engineering and construction.

“Throughout this region, the skills gap is widening and so we must encourage more young people to study the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

Phil continues: “Greg Clark, the Business Minister, talks of a new emphasis on vocational skills for non-graduates in the strategy. This is absolutely right. Our young people need to know all options available to them and the job potential linked to each option

“For some, university is a good option but it is not good enough to leave university with a degree alone. At graduation students also need to have tangible skills to put in front of an employer. Our surveys show businesses constantly calling for this.”

According to reports government’s industrial strategy will include:

• Invest in science, research and innovation
• New emphasis on vocational skills for non-graduates
• Upgrading of digital, energy, transport, water and flood-defence infrastructure
• Help for business to improve accountancy and management skills
• Whitehall to buy more British products
• Blitz to boost productivity
• Use of clean, cheaper energy to conserve costs and innovate in green technology
• Assist high performing industries and identify successors
• Investment for poorer regions
• Back government departments which make a difference for industry
The government’s intentions here are obviously good but there appears to be a larger degree of business intervention than ever before.