Commenting on the speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:
“If the Labour Party is preparing for Government it must avoid attempts to vilify business or, marginalise it. Instead it must engage with and, listen to, industry about how it can work with the grain of companies to support growth and investment. The commitment to an industrial strategy and vocational training is welcome but we need to see a new, wider narrative that champions successful businesses and the vast majority of companies who are responsible employers.
“This must be accompanied by policies that support and incentivise rather than penalise, as only by doing this will we see the higher productivity we need to deliver higher living standards and better public services.”
On plans to tax companies who use automation, Terry Scuoler added:
“It is encouraging that Mr Corbyn is at least talking about the benefits that automation can bring, but also the risks. Technology is bringing radical change, the pace of which the UK will not dictate, and manufacturers have been responding by investing in automation for a long time to improve their competitiveness. Equally, training and management of the workforce does indeed need to adapt in response as automation can free up employees for higher value activity. We will only see this, however, if education and business works together to develop those capabilities.
“A punitive tax which smacks of luddism is not the way forward, however, and would dismay manufacturers. We cannot stop the clock on the evolution of technology which is why we need to find policy solutions which capture the benefits and minimise risks. This must be done in partnership with government to avoid pursuing measures which are more likely than not to penalise companies.”
According to EEF data 80% of manufacturers say 4IR will be a business reality by 2025