News & Views

Advanced manufacturing ‘to play a key part’ in post-Covid reconstruction

Advanced manufacturing ‘to play a key part’ in post-Covid reconstruction

Above: Novel agricultural robots such as this one made by the UK’s Small Robot Company can help drive the country’s economy and assist in the “levelling up” that the government likes to talk about

Britain should make advanced manufacturing a key element of its economic recovery plan following the pandemic, Made Here Now founder Peter Marsh will tell an online audience on June 9.

Marsh is among the speakers at an event organised by pan-European thinktank Radix on “achieving above-trend growth” to address the economic and social damage caused by Covid.

Marsh will stress the importance of increasing resources for training and education to boost the skills needed to develop a high-value sector where he argues the UK has many advantages.

Advanced manufacturing involves technologies including 3D printing, new materials and robotics; increasing digitisation to process information from production processes and improve planning; and the combination of manufacturing with high-value services including maintenance and online monitoring to create additional revenue streams.

Encouraging young people to develop an interest in creative applications of engineering and manufacturing is vital to providing the skills the UK needs

It also encompasses areas of production based on craft-based processes, some of which may have existed for centuries and which sometimes can be enhanced through the addition of modern technologies.

“One of the most important policies the government should adopt is to promote a better profile for advanced manufacturing so that more people are aware of this part of the economy and the vital part it can play in the economy over the next 25 years,” Marsh will say.

“Advanced manufacturing involves both high productivity and significant numbers of well-paid jobs in most UK regions. It has the potential to be a key component of the ‘levelling up’ strategy the government likes to talk about but where ministers have done a poor job in giving details of what they have in mind.”

Made Here Now was launched as a vehicle to boost awareness of the potential for manufacturing in the UK economy, and to encourage more young people to consider it among their career choices.

Research by Made Here Now based on interviews with more than 100 young people working for 76 manufacturers across the UK has produced revealing insights on why people go into manufacturing jobs and the policy interventions likely to inspire more to do so.

Radix describes itself as “a thinktank for the radical centre” that seeks “a sustainable society where all citizens can live securely with dignity, are active participants in society and are free to pursue their own interpretation of the good life”.

It says the government’s strategy for “managing the massive debts incurred in responding to Covid will be the political question of the next decade and beyond”. All economists agree, it says, that boosting growth should be a vital element of any plan.

“Many measures that could boost growth – from industrial policy to skills strategies to devaluation – have been put forward but are unlikely to provide a silver bullet alone,” Radix says. “So what are the possible combinations of reforms? And what can we learn from other countries and from the past?”

Other speakers at the webinar include Magda Polan, a senior economist previously at the International Monetary Fund and now working in asset management, Balazs Egert, an economist at the Paris-based OECD, an economic research group for rich countries, and John Mills, founder of the Institute for Prosperity who argues that Britain should rebalance its economy after 40 years of deindustrialisation.

In his contribution, Marsh will provide examples of companies that have already achieved strong growth in key areas of manufacturing – often during the pandemic – and whose stories illustrate the potential contribution advanced manufacturing companies could make if they received greater support from the government.

To register for the Radix event, visit its website.