Minister unveils renewed manufacturing strategy

Published:  07 January, 2008

Minister unveils renewed manufacturing strategy


Business Secretary John Hutton called on UK manufacturers to respond positively to new opportunities created by emerging markets in the green economy, such as renewable energy and other low-carbon technology.

He announced a renewed manufacturing strategy will look at how the Government can help British industry take advantage of opportunities presented by tackling climate change while ensuring the UK is at the forefront of developing and manufacturing new green technologies.

Hutton said: "UK manufacturing has a crucial role to play in helping us accelerate to a low carbon economy.

"There are many new and exciting technologies available for the UK to take advantage of, including on and offshore wind power, LED lighting, fuel-cell powered vehicles, carbon capture and storage, biomass, micro-generation, wave and tidal technology.

"In the UK, thousands of new green collar jobs could be created by the potential in wind power alone - from around 8000 now to more than 27,000 in 2020.

"Global demand for wind energy generation is growing by 20% each year and I want to help UK manufacturers see these opportunities and exploit the wealth of expertise already at their disposal.

"Our refreshed strategy will ensure Government is doing all it can to assist UK manufacturing compete globally and take advantage of exciting new markets."

Hutton also unveiled plans for a new Ministerial Advisory Group on Manufacturing. The Group, which will report to Stephen Timms, Minister for Competitiveness, will include the CBI, TUC and EEF, and will participate in renewing the strategy. It will replace the Manufacturing Forum, set up in 2004, which has been instrumental in helping to steer the Manufacturing Strategy over the past three years.

The Ministerial Advisory Group will provide expert advice on key areas such as innovation, skills, training, image and low carbon manufacturing - as well as helping Government address the full range of issues that are important to the manufacturing sector.

EEF, the manufacturers' organisation said it was now essential the Group played a key role in evaluating the performance so far of the previous strategy and where policy should now focus. EEF director general, Martin Temple, commented: "This is welcome recognition by government of the key role manufacturing has to play in a high value modern economy. It is essential that the Group keeps government focused on delivering the right competitive environment in which companies can continue to flourish.

Welcoming the focus on how manufacturers can take advantage of green technologies and climate change, Temple also added a note of caution, warning that other key issues must not become subsumed to this agenda alone: "Green technologies and climate change will provide undoubted opportunities for manufacturers. However, this is not the only game in town and must be seen in the context of a wider strategy for manufacturing to succeed. In particular, an emphasis on green issues must not be at the expense of issues such as skills, innovation and a competitive tax and financial regime.

The Government says the UK has an excellent base to move forward in these new markets. In off-shore wind the Government highlights there is an opportunity for the UK to develop into a global leader, building on its experience in design, installation and operation in off-shore environments. Similar opportunities exist across the green sector, and part of the strategy will examine whether there is more Government can do to encourage these manufacturers to expand into the renewables and other emerging markets.

Rapid global and technological advances are changing the economic challenges for manufacturers in Britain. China and India already account for nearly 50% of world real GDP growth. Their importance as a driver for future growth is set to continue in 2008 and beyond.

The Government says it is committed to helping strengthen the future of UK manufacturing by supporting companies to embrace new opportunities in increasingly competitive global markets.

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