Theresa May’s Industrial Skills Revolution: The facts, the opportunities, the reactions

24 January 2017 -


Theresa May’s new industrial strategy has been hailed as an “important first step” as the Prime Minister promises to bolster Britain’s “world-leading” industries

Matt Scott

Prime Minister Theresa May’s new industrial strategy for the UK includes a review of inward investments, plans for working with behavioural insight experts to identify potential exporters and provision for a £170m fund to set up institutes of technology across the country.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke praised the Prime Minister’s announcement, and said it presented opportunities for UK Plc on the global stage.

“I welcome Theresa May’s announcement today, recognising the need to invest in the digital, management and engineering skills the UK needs to flourish as a global leader in the 4th Industrial Revolution,” she said. “This is an opportunity for the UK to take a global lead and show what responsible capitalism can deliver. This is all the more important given the recent insular, protectionist announcements from President Trump.

“Alongside investing in infrastructure, it’s essential we challenge the UK to accept the value of technical, high level apprenticeships. Unless we can overcome “apprenticeship snobbery” and invest in practical routes that can lead right to the top we won’t boost productivity and create the new, dynamic industries that will set the UK apart.”

The government green paper launched by May, Building Our Industrial Strategy, also highlighted the need for improved management skills and a long-term focus for UK Plc.

“We must ensure that businesses across the UK can access the finance and management skills they need to grow; and we must create the right conditions for companies to invest for the long term,” it said. “Innovation is not just about breakthrough technologies or scientific and engineering processes. Effective adoption of technology throughout businesses and improvements in management and workforce skills are just as important, as are new ways of providing services, from financial services and retail to professional advice.

“Innovation can sometimes be disruptive, but ultimately we must embrace innovation to keep ahead of the competition, create more good jobs, and make sure jobs in the UK are secure.”

Siemens UK chief executive Jürgen Maier, who will carry out a review of industrial digitisation as part of the Prime Minister’s industrial strategy, said it was important for the strategy to have the full backing of government, citing the example of Germany’s Industrie 4.0.

“When Industrie 4.0 [Germany’s industrial internet initiative] was launched it was done by the German chancellor,” he said. “This strategy [in the UK] has now got the full buy-in of the prime minister’s office, the Treasury and the department for business . . . which to me means it is much more serious.”

The 10 Pillars of Theresa May’s Industrial Revolution

  • Investing in science research and innovation
  • Developing skills
  • Upgrading digital, energy, transport, water and flood defence infrastructure
  • Ensuring businesses can access the finance and management skills needed to grow
  • Improving government procurement
  • Encouraging trade and inward investment
  • Delivering affordable energy and a move to a low-carbon economy
  • Cultivating world-leading sectors
  • Driving growth across the whole country
  • Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places
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