The Northern Automotive Alliance (NAA) has led a comprehensive consultation workshop on the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper. Over 30 companies and organisations attended the workshop, including large OEMs, SMEs, suppliers, micro-companies, universities, BEIS and LEPs, to give their input into the Green Paper.
The top three priorities that emerged from the consultation are:
- Skills development.
- The requirement to help businesses start and grow.
- Translating the strategy into actions that will develop the automotive supply base and increase competitiveness of the industry.
Michael Straughan, Chairman, Northern Automotive Alliance, comments: “In my view there has never been a more important time for Britain to develop a modern industrial strategy – especially in a post-Brexit world and with so much technological change upon us. The good news is that the size and diversity of the automotive industry in the Northern Powerhouse means that we can really support the strategy from every aspect. The ideas outlined in the green paper are a good start and a positive sign that the Government is committing to our industry.”
Carol Holden OBE, Chief Executive, Northern Automotive Alliance, adds: “The NAA is keen to work with the Government to define specific actions and give constructive feedback that, if implemented, will help make the industrial strategy happen and deliver significant growth across the Northern Powerhouse and within the UK.”
Other key outcomes from the Northern Automotive Alliance Industrial Strategy workshop are:
Prioritisation is key
- It was felt that the Industrial Strategy Green Paper has well-considered themes overall, but confidence in implementation needs to be developed. Prioritisation will be key, together with a robust delivery plan as the next step to ensure delivery.
- The UK automotive industry and its supply chain needs support to take quick action in areas such as new technologies (e.g. Industry 4.0) and process innovation to increase productivity and remain competitive.
Longevity of strategy is necessary
- The Industrial Strategy must bridge political change (i.e. more than the five-year term of a Parliament). A long-term strategy is especially critical in areas such as energy and infrastructure.
Make access to support simple and more available to smaller companies
- Make it easier for companies to get access to funding – reduce red tape.
- The automotive industry operates more on a regional basis than a local basis, therefore a drive for cross Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) collaboration across the Northern Powerhouse will be welcomed.
- It is important to engage with organisations operating in the automotive industry on a regional, not just a national, basis.
‘Made in Britain’ – importance of manufacturing
- Manufacturing needs to be prioritised – and this is especially important for the North if the Government is serious about its stated aim of improving the economy of UK regions outside of the South East.
UK supply chain needs to be central to the Industrial Strategy
- Any trade agreements should consider the whole supply chain (not just the finished product); we must have an integrated automotive supply chain in the UK, currently there are many vehicle components that are only available overseas.
Fix missing links within the Industrial Strategy
- Join up industry (e.g. OEMs and SMEs) and universities related to supply chain activities and technical innovation.
- Improve links between sectors e.g. automotive and energy, automotive and technology.
- Improve links between micro-companies/SMEs and large companies.
- Work together to define a genuine vision for how the Northern Powerhouse makes a success of the Industrial Strategy.
- As well as supporting businesses to start and grow, a key need is for the UK to support SMEs to grow sustainably to Tier 1 suppliers, to address significant lack of Tier 1s in the UK.
- Leadership is missing from the strategy. To achieve business growth from SME to Tier 1, skills development is needed – e.g. business leadership skills.
SMEs need to have more focus
- It was felt that the Industrial Strategy Green Paper has the right focus at the top level but work is needed to translate down to SMEs.
- A mechanism is needed for Government to share the risk in start-ups.
- Need to ‘catapult’ SMEs forward to help leapfrog past global competitors.
The Northern Automotive Alliance helps to support and nurture supply chain companies to grow into larger businesses, to strengthen the upstream supply chain in the UK. The NAA works with the Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) to help supply chain companies to increase sales to OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, to access finance and to promote trade opportunities.
The NAA is an independent, not-for-profit company which provides a membership service to the automotive community, supporting micro-companies through to the locally-based global vehicle manufacturers. Find out more at www.northernautoalliance.com