Forget the myths and be proud of what we make in this region of ours

editorial image

I’ve been waiting for the past couple of weeks for someone of worth to respond to the excellent article by Bob Rae concerning the state of manufacturing in South Yorkshire. Zilch.

So, you may wish to put up with me, whose only qualifications to comment are as a former business journalist and former communications manager promoting regeneration, business support, inward investment and job creation through Rotherham Investment & Development Office.

And as someone whose heart sinks when I hear the shallow-thinking old fallacy, “We don’t make things any more in Sheffield/South Yorkshire/Britain...” I feel like shaking the speakers and urging them to look around them. Bob Rae’s piece should be required reading - at least in schools, so that our young people do not grow up with this myth.

In my time I’ve found in this and other areas of Yorkshire superb examples of “making things”; of manufacturing at its sharpest, its most innovative, most entrepreneurial, manufacturing that is taking on rival companies and countries worldwide. Bob highlighted in particular the Advanced Manufacturing Park and its University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing. I still feel a huge sense of privilege to have played a tiny part in developing those. There are many others - mechanical seal manufacturer AESSEAL, Olympian bobsleigh developers Bromley Technologies, boundary-pushing Newburgh Engineering, Martek Marine, producers of lifesaving equipment... the list is long. And our two Sheffield universities play outstanding roles in developing entrepreneurs, skills and research.

It is time our manufacturers were celebrated, not just at events such as awards ceremonies but in our schools and in our communities. Perhaps then young people, when asked who is their best-known engineer, will not reply “Kevin Webster, from Coronation Street”. And perhaps older people might stop lamenting, “We never make anything...”

Clarke Herron