Industrial Strategy unveiled for a modern global Britain

Published:  03 February, 2017

Proposals for a modern Industrial Strategy to build on Britain’s strengths and tackle its underlying weaknesses to secure a future as a competitive, global nation, have been launched by the Prime Minister Theresa May.

At the heart of the strategy green paper is an offer to businesses to strike new sector deals, driven by the interests of firms and the people they employ, to address sector-specific challenges and opportunities. As part of the deals government will be prepared to offer a range of support, including addressing regulatory barriers to innovation and growth, looking at how we can use trade and investment deals to increase exports, or supporting the creation of new institutions to provide leadership, support innovation or boost skills.

The Industrial Strategy is part of the Plan for Britain set out by the Prime Minister recently. The Government says it will drive growth right across the United Kingdom, using major new investments in infrastructure and research to drive prosperity – creating more high-skilled, high paid jobs and opportunities. The green paper also sets out plans to strengthen institutions in each part of the country to support their specific strengths – whether it’s building up local trade bodies, or creating new educational institutions, making it easier for business to access finance outside London or getting a stronger business voice into local government.

The Prime Minister said that a truly modern British Industrial Strategy must make Britain a hive of new industries which will challenge the companies and industries of today: “The modern Industrial Strategy will back Britain for the long-term: creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and backing them to invest in the long-term future of our country.

“It will be underpinned by a new approach to government, not just stepping back but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success.”

Terry Scuoler, chief executive officer of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, responded to the launch of the green paper: “This is an important first step towards creating a comprehensive, consistent and long-term industrial strategy that will help Britain adjust to a more globally-focused, post-Brexit economy. Manufacturing has a key role to play and we look forward to working with the government on crystallising this into a strategic framework that will work and deliver for industry.

“The end result of this process must be an industrial strategy that lives up to the promise of driving different behaviours and outcomes for the British economy. This requires the whole of government working together to support it, with clear leadership from the Prime Minister and her whole Cabinet.”

Professor Dame Ann Dowling, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, added that the proposed plans have real potential to benefit the whole country, not just the South East of England. She said that if properly implemented and resourced, they will provide a major opportunity to reinvigorate the UK’s position as a global leader in the innovative engineering and manufacturing that form the backbone of our economy and account for some 50% of our exports by value: “The strategy will also help to accelerate the growth of emerging engineering technologies and scientific advances that originate from the world-class research and development undertaken in our universities. Advances in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence, energy technologies, manufacturing processes and materials, and healthcare are set to impact on both society and the economy in the years to come. But we will only be able to make the most of these opportunities if there is also investment in the skills that employers need. The government’s industrial strategy will be critical in delivering that step change in our skills base.”

The green paper sets out 10 strategic pillars to underpin the new government approach:

1. Investing in science, research and innovation

2. Developing skills

3. Upgrading infrastructure

4. Supporting businesses to start and grow

5. Improving procurement

6. Encouraging trade and inward investment policy

7. Delivering affordable energy and clean growth

8. Cultivating world-leading sectors

9. Driving growth across the whole country

10. Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places

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