The UK government has launched its long-awaited Industrial Strategy with the aim of setting out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths and address productivity performance.
Prime Minister Theresa May first raised the plan in January when she launched proposals for a Modern Industrial Strategy, and a public consultation soon followed with industry.
Launching the plan on Monday, May said: “Our modern Industrial Strategy will shape a stronger and fairer economy for decades to come. It will help create the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and support these businesses in seizing the big opportunities of our time, such as artificial intelligence and big data, whilst also making sure our young people have the skills to take on the high-paid, high-skilled jobs this creates.
“As we leave the European Union and forge a new path for ourselves, we need to focus on building a better future for our country and all the people who live in it. With the Budget last week, and our Industrial Strategy in the years ahead, we will build a Britain fit for the future.”
The Industrial Strategy paper adds: “Our consultation reinforced the importance of five foundations (see below) of productivity – the essential attributes of every successful economy. Our five foundations align to our vision for a transformed economy – a transformation that is already taking place and will accelerate over the course of the coming decades.
“Through this process we have also identified Grand Challenges which we will set for the UK government and wider economy. These are in response to global forces that will shape our rapidly changing future, and which the UK must embrace to ensure we harness all the opportunities they present.
“Our foundations and Grand Challenges are set out. This strategy also refers to a number of policies that will be added to over time to support the foundations and drive the UK’s transformation.”
In the strategy, the government has identified the four ‘Grand Challenges’ – global trends that it says will shape our rapidly changing future and what the UK must embrace to ensure all opportunities are harnessed, as:
artificial intelligence – we will put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution
clean growth – we will maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth
ageing society – we will harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society
future of mobility – we will become a world leader in the way people, goods and services move
The government says that each Grand Challenge represents an open invitation to business, academia and civil society to work and engage with the government to innovate, develop new technologies and ensure the UK seizes these global opportunities.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “The way we earn and live our lives as workers, citizens and consumers is being transformed by new technologies. The UK is well-placed to benefit from this new industrial revolution and we start from a position of significant strength. We have a thriving research and science base and are home to a wide range of innovative sectors, from advanced manufacturing and life sciences, to fintech and creative industries.
“The Industrial Strategy is an unashamedly ambitious vision for the future of our country, laying out how we tackle our productivity challenge, earn our way in the future, and improve living standards across the country.”
The White Paper also focuses on the five foundations of productivity – ideas, people, infrastructure, business environment and places. Each foundation is supported by a range of policies that have been designed to provide businesses with certainty and reassurance that the UK will continue to have a competitive edge.
“By working in strong partnership with national and local government, we have created a very positive example of Industrial Strategy in action for the off-shore wind industry in the Humber which is creating a new and vibrant local economy. Through today’s Industrial Strategy announcement we are optimistic that through greater investment in R&D, and especially through the application of advanced industrial digital technologies like AI and robotics, we can support many more new and existing manufacturing industries - raising productivity and creating thousands of new highly skilled and well paid jobs,” Juergen Maier, chief of Siemens UK