'Inadequate' industrial strategy gets tepid welcome

Nov 28, 2017, 00:26
'Inadequate' industrial strategy gets tepid welcome

It also comes on the same day that the United Kingdom government is due to publish a white paper on industrial strategy in a post-Brexit economy, with the aim of tackling a range of issues such as the country's stagnant productivity, the lop-sidedness of the country's economy in favour of London and the southeast (not addressed in MSD's case) and improve workforce skills.

"Powered by new technology, new industries are being created, existing ones changing and the way we live our lives - as workers, citizens and consumers - transformed".

Sector deals are partnerships between the government and industry on sector-specific issues that, it is hoped, can create significant opportunities to boost productivity, employment, innovation and skills.

When details of the Industrial Strategy were published on 27 November 2017, trade bodies such as RenewableUK were quick to welcome it, despite misgivings about onshore wind being overlooked.

Summing up the Industrial Strategy paper, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Our modern Industrial Strategy will shape a stronger and fairer economy for decades to come".

The UK government's plans for an industrial strategy pledge a key role for universities in regional growth, commit to increasing university-business collaboration funding and reaffirm the commitment to a "major review" of tertiary education funding.

"We have commercial and industrial sectors - from advanced manufacturing to financial services; from life sciences to the creative industries - which are competitive with the best in the world".

"We believe that the strong integration of cross strategy themes such as stimulating productivity, growth and exports; investment in research; investment in innovation; investment in infrastructure; attracting and retaining a skilled, fit for objective workforce are fundamental linkages in the Industrial Strategy".

"So this Industrial Strategy deliberately strengthens the 5 foundations of productivity: ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places". For the industry, the deal will "drive investment in the UK's world-leading research infrastructure and boost productivity in the sector", it said.

The "Sector Deals" cover construction, artificial intelligence (AI), automotive and life sciences - to help sectors grow and equip businesses for future opportunities.

Among its other promises today within the Industrial Strategy, the govenrment said that it would be "working in partnership with food businesses "from farm to fork", through the Courtauld Commitment to deliver a 20 per cent per capita reduction in food waste by 2025".

"The strategy unveiled today reflects this engagement, with a new and unique partnership between government, academia and industry, supported by policies that are committed to making the United Kingdom economy more productive and giving it a competitive edge in the future and overseas". This will support the development of new markets for waste materials and improve the efficiency of enforcement, creating a level playing field for the waste and resources sector'.

And, zero avoidable waste is to be targeted as a national ambition along with "a doubling of resource productivity by 2050, including through our 25-year Environment Plan and a new strategy for resources and waste". One of the strategy's "Grand Challenges" surrounds the use and harnessing of artificial intelligence (AI), and the paper notes that one application of AI could be to enable more efficient use of resources: 'For example, intelligent algorithms applied to data on atmospheric conditions and soil moisture could dramatically reduce the amount of water needed for agriculture'.