I am looking forward to speaking at the EEF conference next month on a topic which, for obvious reasons, is at front of all our minds now - how do we become more competitive and continue to make the UK a great place to do manufacturing against a backdrop of huge change?
We know the challenges and uncertainties for manufacturing investment: Brexit; a drift towards protectionism; rapid technological change which will make many of the jobs and business models of today defunct in a few years’ time. And this is even without some of the issues we have been trying to fix for years such as skills, access to finance, and underinvestment in new technology.
At the Conference, I am sure we will discuss all of these issues and more. One very key topic for me is how the UK can maximize the opportunities presented by digitalization technologies; Robots, Artificial Intelligence, Data Analytics and Virtual Reality just to mention a few. That is why, as part of the revised UK approach to Industrial Strategy I have agreed to lead a review for the Government on this topic, which I am very much looking forward to.
We are a long way behind our competitors in our strategic approach and the adoption of these technologies and it is vital that we get this right if we want the UK to remain a world-class destination for manufacturing investment and address broader issues like productivity and future jobs in a time of rapid technological change.
Government policy will be an important part of this, yes. But there is an onus on us the manufacturers to invest more in innovation, R&D and skills and be ready and willing to adapt our product and service offering whenever necessary. It is this that will help us to remain in the front rank of global manufacturing and it is this topic, amongst others, that I will look forward to discussing, and hearing the views of others, at the Conference in February.
Juergen will be speaking at EEF’s National Manufacturing Conference 2017 on 22 February.