Morningside has joined forces with over 50 of the Midlands’ leading manufacturers to discuss the sector’s role in levelling up the UK.
The event, which was the brainchild of our Chairman, Dr Nik Kotecha OBE and the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), was hosted at the Morningside Arena, Leicester. Its objective was to boost manufacturing and to highlight the sector’s key role in creating regional growth, reducing geographical inequality, leading to higher productivity and better wages for all.
The Midlands is the leading location for UK manufacturing, with 25,270 businesses and 555,820 existing jobs in the sector, equalling 12.5% of total employment – a much higher percentage than the national average.
Key themes emerging from the conference included; the UK being too regionally unequal, in large part due to the decline of regional manufacturing. Revolutionising manufacturing will also bring growth, productivity and better jobs to regions like the Midlands, and also the whole country beyond London and the South East.
Dr Kotecha, who is also a Midlands Engine Council Board Member, said: “The Midlands is the UK’s manufacturing heartland, employing 4.7m people and accounting for 22% of UK exports; yet it’s clear that the region’s voice on the national stage is often fragmented and disjointed.
“Collaborations between the public and private sectors, as well as academia are key to addressing this, which is vital to bringing leaders together to share ideas, at a time when levelling up the regions has never been more important.
“Conferences like this are crucial to developing a clear shared vision for the region and securing greater investment and policy support from government. They’re also vital to raising awareness of the strengths and challenges we have as a region, as well as building on our successes to deliver a bright future for businesses and our communities.”
The conference was convened by Midlands Engine, Make UK, East Midlands Chamber and Morningside in partnership with leading UK think tank, The CSJ.
Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine and a keynote speaker at the event, said: “Our region was the original global manufacturing pioneer, and we continue to lead the world. Together, we are identifying and acting on a wealth of opportunities for a new generation of Midlands makers and entrepreneurs, through our increasingly clean, advanced and technology-focused manufacturing.”
Andy Cook, Chief Executive of The Centre for Social Justice, said: “The CSJ is committed to the value and dignity of work for everyone in our society, across the whole country. For too long our economy has been dominated by London and the South East, while inequality between UK regions has been allowed to grow.
“We believe a revolution in manufacturing will bring greater growth and opportunity to the Midlands – and to the whole country. Today we bring together the key voices of Midlands industry as the foundation of a CSJ policy programme seeking to put UK manufacturing at the heart of levelling up.”
Charlotte Horobin Regional Director, Midlands and East, Make UK said” “Midlands manufacturing plays a wonderfully diverse and powerful part in UK industry. Nearly 600,000 people within our region work in our fabulous sector making things from pies to aerospace parts and everything in between. During the pandemic this has meant we can continue to put food and drink on our supermarket shelves, and our businesses have stepped up to provide ventilators for intensive care units and PPE for local hospitals. Manufacturing will continue to play a significant role in the region’s economy and will measurably contribute to our ability to bring about a post-pandemic recovery.”
Chris Hobson Director of Policy and External Affairs, East Midlands Chamber added: “The manufacturing sector is a core part of our region’s business community and is well-placed to support the recovery and rebalancing of our economy. The pursuit of sustainable growth will enable our region to flourish and I welcome the opportunity to advance the voice of the business community in this goal.”