Thursday, June 26, 2014

News: Chuka Umunna on the importance of manufacturing

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Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna MP, stressed the importance of manufacturing to a successful UK economy at The Global Manufacturing Festival (GMF) in Rotherham, this week.

The GMF has been running since 2011 and has grown in popularity each year with some of the world's biggest manufacturing and engineering companies attending. It was held for the first time at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) last year and returned with a trade show and conference, keynote speakers and workshops.

Organisers, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, the University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing and Marketing Sheffield, stated that over 1,000 delegates came through the doors yesterday.

The Streatham MP discussed Labour's Agenda 2030, the recently launched plan for long-term sustainable growth and a rebalancing of Britain's economy.

On the importance of manufacturing, he told the audience: "Our challenge is to build an economy that is home to more companies like Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), creating good jobs at home and succeeding in export markets around the world.

"An economy with advanced manufacturing at its heart. Because it is a crucial driver of higher productivity, which can raise living standards.

"And because the insight gains from the production process spill over into other sectors, raising productivity there, too.

"To get there means making the UK the place that firms want to choose for serious investments in our future."

Mike Wright, executive director of JLR, shared the stage with Umunna to discuss his independent review, commissioned by Labour, into Britain's manufacturing supply chain.

Wright explained that his review, to be published this week, will cover major issues such as productivity, skills and the issues facing big and small businesses alike. He is set to call for a strategic review into innovation support and for a check on industrial policy.

The shadow business secretary joked how he had previously felt uneasy about mentioning industrial strategy for fear of being labelled a communist but discussed the consensus in Westminster for the government to play a role in unlocking talent.

He said: "Our Agenda 2030 is about creating the right platform for people to make the most of their potential and achieve their aspirations.

"Progressive politics is about nothing if it is not about helping people get on.

"Anybody who lived in Sheffield during the 80s felt how destructive the absence of a constructive and active government can be.

"Compare that to the rise of the Sheffield we know now - once more forward-looking, seeking to lead a 21st Century UK export boom based on a high-skilled, modern manufacturing economy.

"Stories like this area shows the power of backing talents. The keys to the next industrial revolution are right here in our hands. They are here in our schools, in our universities and our communities. Our shared challenge is to unlock that potential."

Global Manufacturing Festival website

Images: Tom Austen

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