The Big Question

Aside from endlessly discussing Brexit and sacking all politicians, what would you do if you were in charge of supporting manufacturing in our sector?

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WILLIAM O’BRIEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SVEN CHRISTIANSEN

Change the Apprenticeship Levy to a Training Levy, and permit funds to be used flexibly for any appropriate training. While the principle of encouraging training is sound, tying the levy to apprenticeships makes it both very restrictive and very bureaucratic – which has led to the very low take-up of the scheme, especially amongst SMEs. Allow employers to use the funds for training that best meets their needs.

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ABI EDWARDS, SENIOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, TMJ INTERIORS

I’d go right back to basics, starting with education in schools. Encourage young people to seek careers in manufacturing, not just stop-gap careers but jobs for life! Inspire young talent to pursue vocations in all sectors of manufacturing. TMJ’s apprentices have proven to be the foundation of our evolving management team and an essential part of our growth strategy; forming our ‘Grow Your Own’ policy.

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JULIAN JOWETT, DIRECTOR, ELITE OFFICE FURNITURE

It’s simple, practice what you preach. UK manufacturing is repeatedly considered one of Britain’s greatest assets yet, as it stands, we see very little being done to protect our heritage and our future. Over the years we have continually seen government procurement authorities favour overseas suppliers. These authorities should be supporting the use of their own, recognising the environmental benefits as well as the economic benefits.

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JESSICA MARSHALL, MARKETING MANAGER, TRIUMPH FURNITURE

I would create a minimum wage, and standard of working across the world, meaning: 1. All countries would be rivalling Denmark to be top spot as happiest country! 2. Importing to our home country would decrease – reducing unemployment and the global carbon footprint, and helping individual economies as pricing would be more balanced globally. Win/win!

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CHRIS SCOTT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, DAMS

I’d like to see more encouragement to invest in modern manufacturing facilities. I’m not specifically talking about grants or subsidies (although that would be great!) but in the UK there is often a fear around modernisation. Raising the awareness, supporting through consultation and training can often make the process to invest easier and strengthen our sector. The other obvious point is to encourage people to support UK manufacturing and buy British – not just in the private sector but also compulsory for government procurement.

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ALISTAIR HIGGINS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, ALLGOOD PLC

I would seek to impress upon the government and our education sector the crying need to inspire our young people to pursue careers in this most exciting, challenging and fulfilling of sectors. There is a deep-seated lack of societal interest in, and validation of, manufacturing or engineering as worthwhile activities. Without this, the skills and investment, which support industrial success in Germany or Japan, cannot flourish here. We therefore need a sustained programme of communication in schools and universities, which elevates these careers to the same level as the services sectors, in which we excel.