Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, has today set out the priorities for the government’s industrial strategy.
The announcement reaffirms the government commitment to the manufacturing sector, but with clear priorities. Specific sectors are identified as priorities for support – aerospace, automotive and life sciences head a longer list. Government’s job, Dr Cable said, is to support long term investment in these sectors, and provide a supporting role through technology investment, training and procurement changes.
Dr Cable has been closely associated with the car industry during his term as Secretary of State. Earlier in 2012, he travelled to see General Motors in the US, to press the case for new investment in Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port facility. The flexibility of the UK workforce, and its ability to adapt, has been critical for this investment.
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has been working closely with the Automotive Council in what Dr Cable calls ‘sustained high level conversation between the industry and government’. This has helped partnership working to fill gaps in the automotive supply chain, currently estimated at £ 3 billion per annum.
This high level conversation with the priority sectors should lead to increased UK manufacturing capacity, joined up thinking with training, apprenticeships and technology investment. A new business bank to facilitate better long term industrial funding is part of the plan, with details to follow.