British Industry a personal view on the decline of British Industry.
This paper was prepared by Cllr Mr Allan Glass
For presentation to C.O.P.O.V.
Looking back to the Industrial revolution and on through Victorian times Britain has flourished at times when industry was at its strongest. Britain once led the world in industrial and manufacturing methods and machinery developments, this brought great prosperity and meaningful employment to the workforce. Commerce banking and general trade has at times made Britain although small in land mass a prosperous country and enabled the spread of industry throughout the commonwealth and the world.
Inventions and expertise are the strength of the industrial heritage Britain has developed.
Manufacturing industry requires highly skilled and trained workers as well as operators of machines. The UK used to have most industries from ship building to electronics but recently it has been transferred to foreign countries due to industrial costs and taxes.
The UK could regain its position within world industry with the right conditions and political outlook. We have the engineers and designers as clearly displayed by the fact that most formula one racing teams are based in the UK. Factories take a lot of space therefore the capitol cost of setting up a factory would make the UK not cost effective but the UK could be the development area for products made where manufacturing is less expensive.
Investment in industry should be encouraged as it could bring employment and financial reward.
During my career I have worked in several types of engineering business improving quality and throughput and this took me around the world. One thing I noted was in developing countries such as India all types of qualification and experience are appreciated and rewarded. In Germany where industry is still profitable to work as an engineer the correct qualifications are required before you can even call yourself an engineer. In the UK we say we will call an engineer to fix our washing machine, it is this lack of understanding of the training and experience required to earn the title engineer that is one reason why our universities have so few engineers in training.
To re-develop our industry we need leader’s free thinkers and investors all to understand what the manufacturing industry entails. Our industries could be very high tech with the right backing and promotion.
Gone are the dark satanic mills of old our industry but we should use the resources we have in abundance and that is our younger generation of students and industrialists.
Current industrial development within the UK.
In recent years the UK has been used as a resource by several foreign investors taking over ailing companies and redeveloping them to use British respected company names like Rolls Royce, Bently, Jaguar and Land Rover to sell products made in the UK but by companies with foreign owners. Nissan and Honda have set up companies from green fields and used the UK work force skills to make high quality cars but again the ownership and therefore the profit has been foreign.
From Southampton near where I live UK built cars are shipped all over the world some even to within the EU this trading on the UK reputation for quality and recently good industrial relations is a resource that UK investors should be taking advantage of.
Hope for the future
One company that had all but closed, Triumph Motor Cycles were underfunded in the late 50,s and early 60,s their products were left behind as obsolete and old fashioned with poor reliability. Triumph was purchased by a UK investor and the company has been reinvigorated with traditional models brought up to date and new models all of high quality and the company is one of the most rapidly growing motor cycle companies in the world.
With this brief and very personal statement the question I would like answered by the UK now is where do we go from here.