Building on close co-operation

Published:  12 October, 2016

Rebalancing the economy with a re-energised industrial strategy is a positive message from the Prime Minister, and one I think most of us can relate and agree with. As Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, emphasised recently, manufacturers are the backbone of many communities and their success is dependent on the best possible business conditions. The Government's strategic decisions on infrastructure, tax, education and skills make the difference between great success and mediocrity.

However, I agree with Terry Scuoler that the Prime Minister must be careful in her approach to leaving the EU. We want an exit deal that builds on close co-operation and shared interests. He is absolutely correct by stating that the Government must avoid ill thought through pronouncements on immigration which will damage the economy and our businesses. We need a level-headed approach to leaving the EU, not a hard-edged race to the exit door.

However it is an increasing worry, that the value of migration to the UK for manufacturers and other sectors of the economy, is not being given its true credit. As Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, said it is time to be clear about the value of migration to the UK, as well as its challenges: “Businesses will not welcome further restrictions on high skilled migration from key trading partners around the world, especially as a series of changes were only announced earlier this year. At a time when we need strong links globally to seize new opportunities after the referendum, being seen as open to the best and brightest is vital.” This message is fundamental to our success outside of the EU, and as she says we should be clear that business does not see immigration and training as an either/or choice. We need both.

British companies invest £45 billion a year training workers in the UK. But as the CBI highlights there are skills gaps right now and if firms do not fill them they cannot grow and spread prosperity.

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