Forget all the hype around possible elections. Tucked away in Gordon Brown’s speech a few months ago at the Labour Party Conference in Bournemouth was a real gem: the PM talking about how he wanted the UK to be leading the global economy, with modern manufacturing at the heart of his vision of the future.
That was music to my ears; manufacturing often feels ignored by government and Brown’s words chimed with the theme for FDF’s fringe event, hosted with the GMB trade union and entitled ’Feeding the nation and its economy - recognising the value of the UK’s food and drink manufacturers’.
We had two ministers speaking at the event - Stephen Timms MP, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and David Lammy MP, Minister for Skills. I was particularly struck that both men felt the biggest challenge facing companies was raising the image of manufacturing to ensure it continued to attract the talent it needed to prosper. Lammy talked about the need for government, unions and industry to work together to ensure children really understood the benefits of building a career in manufacturing, while Timms floated the idea of creating a ’Manufacturing Media Centre’ to promote the good news stories from all sectors.
Given that we are one manufacturing sector that sometimes feels taken for granted, this event was a positive session - and one on which we hope to build in the coming months.