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19 Jan 2017 These are ‘Glass Half Full’ Times for British Manufacturing – Martyn Ingram, Group Director


British business is becoming accustomed to the fact that we are living in interesting times, and this is certainly the case in manufacturing.


Ongoing economic instability across the globe, the protracted debate over our EU exit, and an unexpected new leader in the US, all add up to uncertainty.


However, like Mark Twain’s death, the reports of the demise of manufacturing have been greatly exaggerated, and most of us at the helm of manufacturing firms are carrying on with business as usual – turning out the highest quality products in the most efficient way and underpinning our business with sound planning, smart working and savvy investment.


You will rarely find me talking down British manufacturing, but if it has an Achilles heel it is the well-reported skills gap that keeps people like me awake at night.


I have gone on record in the past about the importance of retaining high calibre graduates, specialist engineers and manufacturing personnel in Wales.


So it is pleasing that, here in Wales, the Welsh Government has announced plans to invest £20m in a new Advanced Manufacturing & Research Institute in Deeside.

The Institute will focus specifically upon training and skills across industry and on research and development of advanced manufacturing techniques and production processes for advanced manufacturing -  including aerospace, nuclear, automotive and food.

The Welsh economy secretary, Ken Skates, has pledged that the institute will deliver game-changing support to key manufacturing companies, multi-sector supply chain companies and SMEs.

All economists and pundits acknowledge the need for a more productive and robust manufacturing sector in the UK, and investments such as this one shows a serious commitment to increasing productivity, innovation and skills.

With Airbus committing to be the main tenant of the new Institute, and with a research and development facility at the aircraft manufacturer’s plant in Broughton, it seems likely that this will be a serious endeavour which can only prove to be a boon to North Wales and perhaps the North East too.