Smart Machines & Factories
Make UK leads campaign to protect skills
Published:  08 September, 2020

As we enter the Autumn and industry, the economy and the political world emerges from the late summer break all eyes will be on how far the recovery is becoming entrenched or whether there remain many long months ahead. Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, the manufacturers' organisation, comments.

In the six months since the lockdown in the UK manufacturing has demonstrated its incredible resilience and just how dynamic and innovative it can be. Having gone through decades of being told that we don’t make anything in the UK anymore and that we don’t need a manufacturing sector you’d be hard pressed to find any commentator arguing that now. The key moving forward is how we place the sector at the forefront of recovery. Make UK is leading the campaign to protect key skills in particular, working with the trade unions and other industry bodies to call for a National Skills Task Force with the aim of protecting key skills in the short term and re-deploying those made redundant in to other sectors and companies that are growing.

In the medium to long term the aim is to use the task force to identify which will sectors will be the growth sectors and what skills of re-training will be needed for them. We will also be continuing to promote of three point plan for recovery including proposals to roll out the Made Smarter campaign for digital technologies nationwide as well as working with regional bodies as part of the levelling up agenda across the UK.

Our latest data shows that job losses are likely in the short term, especially in those sectors hit hardest such as aerospace and automotive and Make UK has called for the extension of the Job Retention Scheme to help these sectors in particular and protect some jobs. There is more encouraging news however in that our latest indicators show the number of companies expecting normal trading conditions to take twelve months or longer to return is falling while those expecting to be fully operational by the start of 2021 is increasing.

Politically the light will fall on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement which is likely to be one of the most important in living memory, as well as the spending review, both of which will be key to restoring growth.