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Industrial Strategy and the MTA

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Last week saw the publication of the Government’s new Green (consultative) Paper on Industrial Strategy. Industrial Strategy has been up and down the policy agenda for nearly ten years - ever since the financial crisis led politicians to start thinking about some questions about the role of the state in the economy which had lain dormant through the years of de-industrialisation.

Peter Mandelson took some of the first initiatives in the dying days of the last Labour Government but Vince Cable’s sector led approach has been the most thorough – at least for favoured sectors such as aerospace and automotive. In his short time as Business Secretary Sajid Javid seemed allergic to the concept, supposedly banning the term and abolishing some of his predecessor’s flagship policies like the Business Growth Service. That changed when Theresa May came into Number 10 with a clear and explicit commitment to create an Industrial Strategy. The Green Paper of this week is the first step towards that.

The paper, which is relatively detailed and wide ranging, is structured around ten ‘pillars’ which cover: R&D, Skills, Infrastructure, Access to Finance, Government Procurement, Trade, Energy, Support for Sectors, Growth across the Country and Local Institutions.

There is much to welcome.  Firstly, there is a very positive specific mention of manufacturing processes (technologies) as a priority area for innovation funding; the skills chapter includes a valuable recognition that comprehensive and positive Advice and Guidance which is positive about apprenticeships is key; there is a promising looking examination of the digitalisation of manufacturing to be led by Juergen Maier; and finally, for the first time in years, a positive mention for the role of Trade Shows.

The MTA will be making a full response to the consultation which is structured around 38 questions, some of which are very open ended. The paper is attached and viewable via this link https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/building-our-industrial-strategy. If you would like to contribute to the MTA’s policy making process on this please contact me via podonnell@mta.org.uk.  Views are welcome on any of the points that the Industrial Strategy raises. We will look at specific areas over the next few weeks, so look out for stories in the Friday Brief and emails from me. The Technical and Education & Development Committees will also be considering the issues relevant to them.