UK government promises increased innovation in industrial strategy whitepaper

By Nell Walker
The UK government has, as of yesterday, released its industrial strategy whitepaper, which highlights changes that must be made across industrial sector...

The UK government has, as of yesterday, released its industrial strategy whitepaper, which highlights changes that must be made across industrial sectors in the nation.

While Britain has been underperforming in many – if not all – key measures, May’s government is now pledging to increase investment in R&D, quality-related research, higher education, and filling skills gaps with talented workers.

Commenting on the whitepaper, Mike Rigby, Head of Manufacturing at Barclays Corporate Banking, said:

“British manufacturing is going through another industrial revolution so targeted investment through sector-specific deals, supported by a focus on technical education and ‘reskilling’, will be welcome news for manufacturers. But Government and business will need to work together if the UK is to tackle productivity in the long-term.

“The regionalised focus of the Strategy is particularly interesting. Local Industrial Strategies, that identify and build on strengths across the country, are much needed if the regions are to fulfil their potential, as borne out by Barclays’s recent research that shows the UK’s industrial heartlands stand to benefit most from investing in the likes of AI and the Data Economy. We found that the North West could create 13,000 further jobs, Yorkshire & Humber 11,000 roles, and the Midlands 14,000 new positions, if local companies adopt these transformative technologies.

“We are at a watershed. Policymakers may know that smart technologies like AI and IoT are key to modern industrial success but some businesses are less convinced. Only four in ten (43%) manufacturers have already invested in these much lauded ‘fourth industrial revolution’ technologies. It will be interesting to see how this new Strategy helps companies realise the potential of these new technologies and overcome barriers to their adoption. Businesses that make the leap will be rewarded.

“With one in five businesses blaming a lack of skilled workers for the delay in implementing these technologies, the funds committed to boosting STEM skills and the National Retraining Scheme are crucial. Combined, they will help equip people for the workplace of the future, helping to ensure the UK manufacturing sector remains a strong post-Brexit competitor internationally.”


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