Britain in Serious Danger of Being Left Behind
World Economy

Britain in Serious Danger of Being Left Behind

Britain is on the cusp of a global, technology-driven fourth industrial revolution, with eight in 10 manufacturers (80%) saying it will become a business reality by 2025. However, the UK’s ability to be a frontrunner hangs in the balance, according to a survey from the EEF, the Manufacturers’ Organization.
In a stark warning to the next government six in 10 manufacturers (58%) say that the UK is in danger of being left behind, Works Management reported Monday.
Nine in 10 manufacturers (88%) say the UK should be taking a leading role in the fourth industrial revolution, but 66% say that UK manufacturing’s ability to compete globally will depend on keeping up with advances in technology.
The revolution – dubbed Industry 4.0 and driven by rapid advances in technology – will become a widespread reality of manufacturing life within the next decade, with eight in 10 manufacturers (80%) expecting their business to be affected by 2025, according to the EEF.
The research supports a key theme of this year’s National Manufacturing Conference and is published alongside a specially-commissioned report – Manufacturing, Britain’s Future – sponsored by leading technology companies Infor and IBM.
The report sets out how the fourth industrial revolution is at hand, and how, in the global battle for dominance, innovative firms can take the lead and help position Britain as the manufacturing and technology hub of Europe.

  Ability to Compete
Seven in 10 manufacturers (66%) say that UK manufacturing’s ability to compete globally will depend on keeping up with advances in technology. However, little over one in 10 (14%) think that the UK is readily equipped to be a leading player.
Almost seven in 10 (69%) say the rapid advance in technology will play to Britain’s strength as a high value manufacturer, pointing to benefits such as the ability to produce more bespoke products (56%) and for more rapid and cheaper prototyping (52%). It will also increase the importance and value of manufacturing within the UK (55%) and result in increased demand for highly skilled workers (63%).
The trend for reshoring is also set for a boost, with half of manufacturers (50%) saying that Industry 4.0 will enable more production to be brought back to the UK. As a result, over three quarters of manufacturers (78%) want to see government, industry and academia working together to secure the UK’s role in the fourth industrial revolution - 85% agree that Britain needs a long-term industrial strategy spanning consecutive governments if it is to capitalise on the opportunities.
Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, said: “The next decade will bring great and rapid change and the early-adopting nations will maximize the opportunities presented by new technologies and thrive as a result. There will inevitably be winners and losers, which is why we should take note when manufacturers say there is a real danger of the UK being left behind.
“Our sector’s ability to remain on top of the 4th industrial wave hinges on the decisions made now and over the next decade by consecutive governments. We must continue to establish the foundations to support our manufacturing renaissance, particularly alleviating the pressure that Industry 4.0 will place on investment and skills. It is vital that the government steps up to this challenge and works hand-in-hand with manufacturers and academia to ensure that the UK is not left behind.”

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