The Food and Drink Federation (FDR) has welcomed an important government report on UK manufacturing, saying that it reflects the industry’s priorities.
FDR director general Melanie Leech described the report as a “timely reminder of the huge contribution manufacturing makes to the UK economy”.
She also said it underlined the quality of the jobs it provides and its potential to deliver more if the right policy frameworks were put in place.
The report was released by the Government Office for Science on October 30th by Vince Cable, the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills.
Innovation, exports and increasing the skills pipeline were named as the key growth drivers in the document, and these mirror the FDF’s ‘2020’ vision, which is to deliver sustainable growth by 20 per cent by 2020.
Also highlighted in the report were future manufacturing skills trends such as an increased demand for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) qualifications. It also put the growing need to mix technical specialisms with commercial and practical ability under the spotlight.
The document reads: “Future demand is currently likely to exceed supply especially as, at present, only around a quarter of engineering and technology graduates work in manufacturing six months after graduation.”
According to the document, the sector also needs to pay attention to the problem of an ageing workforce and how this can be tackled. This is an issue which is hitting all industries, as healthcare advances increase life expectancy and the pension age is pushed up along with this.
The report calls for the government to promote STEM subjects, increase and diversify the supply of manufacturing workers, and equip them with high quality skills.
A spokeswoman for the FDF said: “Though we are the UK’s largest manufacturing sector in the UK, without a secure pipeline of talent, out industry won’t be able to thrive”.