One of the planks of previous Conservative governments was the belief that ‘the market’ should get on with things and that government should keep out of the way. Yet this Government has bucked that trend, realising that if the UK’s economy is to wean itself from dependence on financial services, something must be done.
In her foreword to the Green Paper outlining the industrial strategy, Prime Minister May said: “Underpinning this strategy is a new approach to government; not just stepping back and leaving business to get on with the job, but stepping up to a new active role.”
While the UK’s industrial sector isn’t ‘on its uppers’ – it still sits comfortably in the global top 10 – there is much room for improvement. Some of the issues are skills related – the shortage of people to fill engineering jobs, for example – there are also structural issues to be addressed, including how close to the ‘bleeding edge’ should the UK get?
The industrial strategy should be of considerable interest to those involved in the UK’s electronics sector. One reason is the word ‘electronics’ appeared just once in the Green Paper’s 132 pages.
Tony King-Smith, CEO of the ESCO industry association, noted: “Electronics is an enabler for so many things; just as steel enables trains and buildings, or pharma enables dealing with flu or GM crops.
“The key thing is that we, as an industry, need to do a much better job of relating how electronics, electrical and embedded software impact events and issues that interest the person in the street. As such, the Green Paper gives us a framework from which we have the opportunity do just that.”
Opinion polls suggest a Conservative government will be elected – we should remember that polls aren’t always accurate – and you might expect its plate to be full of Brexit discussions. As important as Brexit negotiations will be, it will be equally important that the industrial strategy doesn’t become a casualty.