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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

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All Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group - A Study of the Culture and Competitiveness in UK Manufacturing

As officers of the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG), we have
spent a lot of time over the last few years talking to people involved in manufacturing
in the UK. One thing we have been continually struck by is an odd resignation that
some things just will never be fixed because of the culture of British industry. Most
frequently, this lament would come up when Germany was being praised as an example
to follow. Positive words about how successfully Germany was, for example, providing
finance to its medium-sized manufacturers, or training new recruits into industry,
would be followed by a sigh and the phrase, ‘But of course that would never work in
Britain. It’s just not in our culture to do that.’
This felt like the perfect starting point for the APMG’s first piece of independent
research. Thinking about manufacturing has very rarely come from a cultural
perspective, so we launched our inquiry to interrogate this one-liner: to try and better
understand what makes our industrial culture, and how we can shape it for the benefit
of UK manufacturing businesses.
The APMG is in a good position to conduct this kind of investigation. Over the last nine
months we have used our convening power to bring together businesses, academics,
and representative bodies, in a neutral setting, to discuss this knotty problem of culture.
Supported by our Steering Group of industry experts, we have taken part in some
fascinating discussions, and hope that the richness of our conversations comes out in
these pages.
This report is not a final conclusion to the problem. If anything, we hope that this will
set the tone for more discussion of industrial culture across industry, academia and
Government. We have, however made some recommendations for structural and
behavioural changes that we think would help improve conditions for manufacturing in
the UK.
Alongside these recommendations, we make a special request to our parliamentary
colleagues. One of the most significant cultural conditions shaping life for manufacturers
in the UK is the current (and false) narrative of industrial decline: the public acceptance
of the idea that manufacturing here is naturally on its way to extinction. This simply isn’t
the case. On our travels and in our discussions we have come across so many exciting
businesses whose existence and success challenge that narrative. As public figures, we
politicians have a unique platform to help turn things around, simply through talking
manufacturing up. We encourage our colleagues to do so!

Please click here to download full report.


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