Manufacturers are urged to heed French lesson

Mr Prisk emphasised the UK’s place in manufacturing, being the world’s sixth largest manufacturer and creating annual exports worth £140 billion, more than half of the UK’s exports.

He said: “The Global Manufacturing Festival is a significant and timely festival for this country to host in 2011. Manufacturing is leading the way in rebalancing the economy and reducing the budget deficit so it is vital that we work with industry to make sure that exports continue to grow.

“Over the next four years we are cutting corporation tax from 28% to 24% and attracting new talent to manufacturing by expanding the number of adult apprenticeships available.”

Chris Squires, procurement manager at EDF Energy – one of the country’s largest energy companies with 20,000 UK employees - spoke about the need for the supply chain for the construction of its planned new nuclear power stations to be fed by quality-driven manufacturers to ensure “the UK gets a fair share of the action.”

Mr Squires, who sits on the board at Rotherham’s’ AMRC (Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre) with responsibility for training and skills, stressed that the supply chain for EDF must deliver with “relentless predictability” and that “boring is good.”

Other speakers included Simon Johnston, senior partner at national law firm Nabarro; Professor Bill Speirs, The Master of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire - Sheffield; Martin Temple CBE, Chairman at EEF; and Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycles Ltd – producers of the world-renowned folding bike.

Mr Butler-Adams said: “There is a common misconception that there is no manufacturing in the UK. Yet we remain the eighth largest manufacturer in the world; leaders in Formula 1, Aerospace, Defence, and of course, folding bikes, to name but a few. These industries contribute to somewhere in the region of 18% of GDP.”

The Global Manufacturing Festival: Sheffield, from March 14–24, is being led by Square 5 Ltd in partnership with Creativesheffield and Business & Education South Yorkshire; is sponsored by Nabarro LLP and Firth Rixson; and will comprise of a series of focused events, workshops, exhibitions and conferences with leading representatives from the world of manufacturing, politics and education.

Martin McKervey, partner at Nabarro, said: “Seeing such a strong interest and attendance today, from manufacturers from outside the South Yorkshire region and from the financial sector in London, bodes well for a successful festival in March.

“There is a real momentum within manufacturing and our region remains the centre that is still looked to for new ideas, new materials and new ways of manufacturing.”

Alison Bettac, UK Learning and Development Manager at Firth Rixson, said: “Today, ‘Customer Focus’ means ‘Global Focus’ and Firth Rixson are helping to reshape global manufacturing, in particular the aerospace sector.

“Growth is important to UK economies and this is why we are supporting the Global Manufacturing Festival as a Headline Sponsor.

“We believe that without preparation for growth within the Manufacturing Sector, it will be difficult to face the challenges ahead of us.

“The skills gaps through people development, building for the future through Apprentice and Graduate Programmes and ensuring that innovation and continuous improvement remain in the forefront of our minds, in all we do, is vital to all manufacturing businesses.”