VI THE WAY FORWARD
56. Last December, participants at the Manufacturing
Summit held in Birmingham came to broad agreement that the future
of UK manufacturing lay in high-technology, high-value added production,
which requires a high skills base; and that action would be necessary
from Government and industry to improve UK productivity and competitiveness.
We endorse that view.
57. Government, employers and unions all
have a part to play in the development of policies and practices
which will increase productivity and improve our competitive position
on world markets. The manufacturing industry has many examples
of successful businesses which are globally competitive in areas
such as aerospace, defence, biotechnology and electronics. Other
sectors find it more difficult to compete and it is vital that
these are given the necessary support to do so, both internationally
and on domestic markets.
58. Several witnesses have expressed their
concern that the recent review and reorganisation of the DTI's
structure had not provided the focus on manufacturing that was
warranted by the importance of the sector to the UK economy. Given
the wide range of Government initiatives directly or indirectly
aimed at improving productivity, and the large number of departments
and agencies, industry organisations and unions involved in the
process, it is important that the Government provides that focus.
We note that the Government has produced a strategy for manufacturing.
This is a more substantive account of activity than was available
when the Government gave evidence in the course of our inquiry,
but it still shows signs of being a work in progress. What
is needed is a focus across the DTI on the relative importance
of the manufacturing industry and its needs. Through this, the
DTI should lead other government departments, such as the Treasury
and the Department for Education and Skills, to give the priority
to the needs of manufacturing that its importance to the UK economy
59. The three months since we took evidence
from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has seen the
Budget Statement and the publication of the Government's Manufacturing
Strategy. We look forward to further discussion with the Secretary
of State on the potential impact on the sector of the former and
on the content of the Strategy before the Summer Recess.
61 The Government's Manufacturing Strategy, May 2002 Back