Over 50 of the Midlands’ leading manufacturers met in Leicester today (30 November) to discuss the sector’s role in levelling up the UK. Boosting manufacturing has a key role in creating regional growth, reducing geographical inequality, leading to higher productivity and better wages for all.
The Midlands is the leading location for UK manufacturing, with 25,270 businesses and 555,820 existing jobs in the sector, equalling 12.5% of total employment – a much higher percentage than the national average.
Key themes emerging from the conference included:
- The UK has been allowed to become too regionally unequal, in large part due to the decline of regional manufacturing
- Revolutionising manufacturing will bring growth, productivity and better jobs to regions like the Midlands, and also the whole country beyond London and the South East
The meeting was convened by Midlands Engine, Make UK and East Midlands Chamber, in partnership with UK think tank, The Centre for Social Justice, and builds on Midlands Engine research that showcases the vast strengths (Midlands Engine Makes) and potential (Midlands Engine Manufacturing Opportunities) of Midlands manufacturing. It is the first stage in developing new policies, due to be published in spring next year, to encourage government to promote and enhance manufacturing at the heart of the UK’s economic and social regeneration.
Sir John Peace, chairman of the Midlands Engine, said: “Our region was the original global manufacturing pioneer, and we continue to lead the world. Together, we are identifying and acting on a wealth of opportunities for a new generation of Midlands makers and entrepreneurs, through our increasingly clean, advanced and technology-focused manufacturing.”
Andy Cook, Chief Executive of The Centre for Social Justice, said: “The CSJ is committed to the value and dignity of work for everyone in our society, across the whole country. For too long our economy has been dominated by London and the South East, while inequality between UK regions has been allowed to grow.
“We believe a revolution in manufacturing will bring greater growth and opportunity to the Midlands – and to the whole country. Today we bring together the key voices of Midlands industry as the foundation of a CSJ policy programme seeking to put UK manufacturing at the heart of levelling up.”
Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, chairman of Morningside Pharmaceuticals, said: “The Midlands is the UK’s manufacturing heartland, employing 4.7m people and accounting for 22% of UK exports; yet it’s clear that the region’s voice on the national stage is often fragmented and disjointed.
“Collaborations between the public and private sectors, as well as academia are key to addressing this, which is vital to bringing leaders together to share ideas, at a time when levelling up the regions has never been more important.”
The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, said: “The Midlands helped to power the first global Industrial Revolution and has remained the manufacturing heartland of the UK ever since. It is a leading light in innovation and ingenuity that drives our economy. With strengths in goods from cars and medicines to textiles and food, the Midlands Engine will help to power our mission to level up communities across the UK.”
Charlotte Horobin, regional director, Midlands and East, Make UK, said: “Midlands manufacturing plays a wonderfully diverse and powerful part in UK industry. Nearly 600,000 people within our region work in our fabulous sector making things from pies to aerospace parts and everything in between.
“During the pandemic this has meant we can continue to put food and drink on our supermarket shelves, and our businesses have stepped up to provide ventilators for intensive care units and PPE for local hospitals. Manufacturing will continue to play a significant role in the region’s economy and will measurably contribute to our ability to bring about a post-pandemic recovery.”
Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs, East Midlands Chamber, said: “The manufacturing sector is a core part of our region’s business community and is well-placed to support the recovery and rebalancing of our economy. The pursuit of sustainable growth will enable our region to flourish and I welcome the opportunity to advance the voice of the business community in this goal.”