Manufacturing companies in the UK are being held back from becoming "wholly competitive" because they are reluctant to invest in technological innovations and skills, a cross-party group of MPs has said.
A report from the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) outlined that this failure to invest is slowing growth but that this trend is one of industrial culture. It follows on from a six-month inquiry into the industry chaired by conservative MP Chris White and Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds.
To encourage more growth in manufacturing, the report, entitled Making Good, is calling on industry and the government to collaborate through consultation on developing a 10 year framework for the industry. This will be used to help businesses adopt long-term growth strategies and encourage more long-term investment. The APMG also asks all parties to honour the framework regardless of the outcome of the next general election.
Mr White said: "We know there are clear links between industrial culture and industrial competitiveness. If UK manufacturing is to be truly competitive in global markets we need a manufacturing sector brimming with outward-facing, confident businesses constantly looking to re-invest and innovate."
The report asks the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to restructure its civil service manufacturing team and to work more closely with trade associations.
It also says that BIS and the Cabinet Office should create pilot projects to look into the take-up of business support policies prior to its full roll-out of the Business Bank, which is aimed at helping small and medium-sized firms borrow money.
Implementing measures to make UK manufacturers more competitive will help to boost their exports to international markets. In turn, the added capital they will gain from this could be used to boost jobs in the sector. With calls to invest further in skills, it is likely a wider variety of more technical manufacturing roles will emerge.
APMG says parliament should do more to encourage higher productivity and a more well-balanced economy, allowing the manufacturing industry to engage more with policy makers.