Manufacturing in the UK

Discussion in 'Economics' started by Yokel, Dec 18, 2011.

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  1. My background is in (Electronic) Engineering, so obviously I have a very keen interest in manufacturing. Despite its decline, the manufacturing sector is very important to the UK in terms of both employment and as a very large contributor to GDP and our exports.

    Recent TV programmes (such as the How To Build series on BBC2) have covered some of our high end industries. Last year they featured BAE Systems producing Submarines at Barrow, Rolls Royce producing Trent Turbofan engines at Derby (and components at other UK locations) and Qinetiq doing various things. This year they covered Airbus UK making A380 wings at Broughton and fuel system and landing gear work at Filton, McLaren producing supercars at their site (also work by specialist firms Capricorn and Riccardo), and Astrium UK producing Communication Satellites, the service module at Stevenage and the Communications module (the fun bit in my opinion) at Portsmouth.

    I have commented elsewhere - like here: The collapse of UK manufacturing - PPRuNe Forums

    From this post.

    And from here: Not made in England - Page 3 - PPRuNe Forums

     
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  2. And because no one took any notice, you re posted it all on here?
     
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  3. ahhh yes manufacturing in the UK,remember it well, my factory went to Poland,my next one only employed Polish,and now im on the dole,living the dream i am,just living the dream.
     
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  4. I wanted to learn how to use a lathe a couple of years ago. Popped along to the college in Rugby to have a chat with the bloke running the metal bashing department and wonderd at the rows and rows of lathes in the room. He told me that there was no demand for lathe op courses anymore and that the lathes were all going to go - the huge railway factory had stopped making stuff so they were not sending apprentices through the college anymore.

    Sad really. You stop making stuff and in short order no one can make stuff because there is no one to teach them.

    Mr. Yokel is right, manufacturing is important to a country it provides the life blood of industry and generates a countries income. THe UK went from manufacturing to providing international call centres and those are now moving to the far east, ultimately the UK will be considered 3rd world in comparison to such countries as China and India. I already see huge swathes of the USA that are bordering very closely on being third world.
     
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  5. [RANT MODE ON] Successive governments have ignored the manufacturing sector, despite the fact that manufacturing still contributes more wealth to our economy than financial services, and creates way more employment. As well as the fact that the wealth created by the banking industry seems to have been based largely on imaginary numbers, wishful thinking and debt.

    For many years, manufacturing seems to have been considered a thing of the past, dirty dark and industrial, with no place in politicians' shiny new future of a "knowledge economy" and industries with a high multiplier like retailing and business services, which involved pushing the same money around in circles until one person lost "confidence" and the whole circus collapsed. The "growth" of western economies in the last 20 years consisted largely of the rising paper value of banks, who lent more and more against rising property values, on the assumption that such prices would continue to grow geometrically for ever. It was bound to end in tears.

    Meanwhile take a look at the Chinese, who have built the world's top industrial economy on the basis of producing all those cute little manufactured goods people in the West wanted to buy with their ever extending credit.

    It's high time politicians woke up and set about rebalancing our economy, supporting and nurturing the manufacturers, so that we have an economy where people are paid to work, not sit idle, where making things pays as well as money lending, engineers have more status than lawyers and where innovation and risk taking are not stifled by accountants.

    [END RANT]

    Edited to add a missing apostrophe
     
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  6. Advice from the late Sir John Harvey Jones

     
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  7. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Yokel, I would be interested to hear your views with regards to BTEC HNC/HND entries into engineering related trades. It appears that colleges are unable to place 6-12 bods into anything apart from the biggest companies, therefore such courses are being culled.
    Without a bridge for bright hands on guys to get in, surely you get stuck with academic theory at one end, and the pure manual at the other?
     
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  8. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    The UK's manufacturing future lies in the 'higher tech' industries. We cannot compete for the 'low tech' products that can be churned out with a minimum of equipment and training by a lowly paid, largely unskilled workforce.

    My degree is in materials science and I spent 25 years in the metal production business. There are few people in the UK with wider experience of producing refractory metals than I - that experience ranges from the chemical intermediates to the finished products. But the industry was f*cked over by the Chinese who used state subsidies to sell product on or below cost and force western manufacturers out. At one time I saw Chinese finished parts coming out of China cheaper than i could buy the metal power. So (bearing in mind I had a good few years to go to retirement) I got out and went to work in the software industry.

    I work for one of the largest software companies in the world and you can see a trend there as well. The 'numpety' jobs are being outsourced to India and the like - leaving the 'brains' jobs behind in Europe and the USA. I saw the way that wind was blowing a couple of years ago and have made damn sure I got a reputation as an SME (Subject Matter Expert). That puts me on the 'brains' side of the equation.

    The reason I've told my story is that its a microcosm of the UK's problems - low tech jobs being exported abroad and only high tech jobs staying behind. UK PLC needs to:

    1) Fix our busted educational system. Handing out worthless qualifications so you can boast exam reports have improved cheats people coming through that system. They have to learn useful skills - and if the pass rate drops; tough sh*t. A high tech manufacturing industry requires a well educated workforce.

    2) Make the appropriate finance available for small business start ups. The government would do well to set up its own low interest loans system (secured against the borrowers house, etc). That way an entrepreneur could get low interested financing for the first 3 - 5 years of his company; the most critical time.

    (The bulk of new jobs come from small companies starting up).

    3) Make sure that government doesn't burden industry with useless regulations. Too many people putting in place regulations have no experience of the industries they're regulating. I've spent too long filling in forms as a 'cover your arse' reasure just to keep inspectors happy when they ahve no practical effect on (for example) safety. Reduce the number of written safety regulations and send round inspectors who know what the f*ck they're talking about. If you've 'walked the walk', you get my respect when you ask for A, B and C to be improved. If you're just out of uni with f*ck all practical experience, you don't.

    4) Set up a simplified tax structure so it rewards investment and growth. And f*ck off Browns overcomplicated nightmare that's a tax evaders charter. AS good tax system is simple and so well drafted that it's not a tax avoidance accountants delight. Business have to to be encouraged to put money back into growing themselves.

    5) Etc, etc...

    We will only survive as a country if we develop high tech industries that require substantial investment, sophisticated machinery, a complex process and a highly educated workforce. Those industries have a high entry barrier to 'low tech' industries that run with a minimum of equipment and training and have a lowly paid, largely unskilled workforce.

    The impetus for that lot has to come from the government - which means we need a government of vision that can decide on what is required and implement the appropriate policies.

    ** Important note ***

    Government itself cannot create a high tech industry. It does not have the detailed knowledge or the ability to pick winners. But it can create a climate where those things happen.

    Rant over....

    Wordsmith
     
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  9. And alongside our 50% production of Graduates, with a little less than 20% required in the market. Most for jobs that didn't need a degree in the first place.
     
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  10. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    In Germany the degree students are also following a closer industry orientated track (they also have a technical college/engineering route similiar to our HNC/HND).
    One difference/prejudice I see is almost all German company owners and mgt are degree qualified, whereas in UK what value you could bring in ££'s counted more than a Masters. Trying to change a perception takes a long time. It largely changed my view doing mine in my 30's, but then I developed another one, preferring older graduates who knew why they were doing it.... heh ho...
     
  11. Make pies not coleslaw!
     
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  12. When I were a lad, kids who could manage the maths did degrees in engineering while those who could not did HNC/HND type qualifications. Some flourished at college and joined the second or third year of a degree course after finishing their HND.

    Now, everybody has to have a degree. If you can't hack honours level maths, no worries, there will be a maths free engineering degree for you at some institution that's keen for your cash. Case in point is a "university" round my way that's offering a two year "degree" in engineering with a C pass in GCSE maths as the only entrance requirement. There's no maths content beyond GCSE and, best of all, you can pass the "degree" even if you fail the written exams because it's assessed mainly on coursework.

    Kids who could do well on an HND course are encouraged to run up massive debts to obtain a so-called degree that the course lecturers themselves describe as "sub o-level". Instead of a well paid job as a technician, they end up working in Carphone Warehouse after being laughed out of a number of interviews with engineering companies.

    I've heard that some firms now require graduate applicants to sit formal degree exams set by a "reputable" university after their finals in order to determine their true ability. Can anybody confirm this?
     
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  13. I attained an HND and it cost nowt, mind you that was 1968.
    Just goes to show how the National Coal Board wasted money!!!!
     
  14. I worked for them for a while,Grimethorpe, buried ****ing millions they did, new coalgetting machinery walled up underground and never used!
     
  15. Oh, my dear heart, we shall have to get together and over a bottle of cold tea
    and mucky fat doorsteps, we shall discuss Shearers, Treppaners and Westfahlenhobel
    Ploughs...an' if tha' were a sparky, we could pummel our puddings over pictures of
    CM4 and MDDR Panels.