The UK government must invest in technology to boost the UK’s manufacturing sector and enable it to bounce back after the coronavirus pandemic. Without innovation, said Emma Robinson, Founder of Red Diamond Executive Headhunters, manufacturers may struggle - despite an anticipated backlash against cheap imports from the Far East.
Red Diamond specialises in placing high calibre candidates in executive positions with companies across the globe - with a number of manufacturers in a range of sectors.
Robinson said the UK had much to offer in the way of expertise in many sectors, including food production, construction materials and textiles, with a reputation for excellence. But there were lessons to be learned in other areas, such as technology and automation.
While she welcomed initiatives such as the job retention bonus and Kickstart scheme to support young workers, announced in chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recent Summer Statement, it was vital to attract the best talent and technology into the manufacturing sector.
Robinson said: “Our manufacturing industry has had a torrid time of late. First there was the credit crunch, then Brexit and its accompanying uncertainty and now coronavirus. But while confidence might have been shaken, capability - and the appetite for success - remain strong.
“British manufacturing has always been associated with high quality both in terms of design and production. Excellence is a commodity that it’s difficult to put a price on. We should be proud of our manufacturing heritage and, while it’s fair to say it has faced challenging times of late, change is just around the corner.
“That’s not to say that areas don’t exist where we could do better. There are lessons to be learned in areas such as innovation and supply chain management. Now is the time to invest in the right technologies to enable us to keep pace with the rest of the world and to contribute to a stronger UK economy.”
Robinson anticipated a backlash against inferior products manufactured in the Far East would bring renewed demand for British-made products.
“We speak to many business leaders who are now seriously considering historical actions and the repercussions of sending manufacturing overseas,” she added. “A once opportune, cheaper, quicker way of working may, post-Brexit, prove to be an expensive, poor quality, logistical and administrative nightmare.
“This is the ideal time to invest in innovation and in strong leadership. That may entail bringing in talent from overseas to teach us how to innovate in other sectors, to enable us to learn from other nations and to encourage back lost talent.
“Having the right leadership team in place is incredibly important, these are uncertain times and we all need a leader who is capable of rebuilding and creating new revenue growth streams.”