The government’s emphasis on developing skills and support for start-ups was highlighted by FDF director general Ian Wright. The government’s outline aligned with food and drink manufacturers’ ambitions to grow and thrive in the UK, he added.
“Our industry provides great jobs in manufacturing, research and development, food science and logistics – in every region of the UK. Yet we face a looming demographic skills gap, heightened by the threat of losing our valued EU workforce,” said Wright.
“The emphasis the government places on developing skills, particularly in STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] subjects and in the new technical colleges, is very welcome.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s industrial strategy showed a commitment to backing manufacturing growth in the UK and overseas, Wright said. More than 90% of food and drink manufacturers are small and medium enterprises, so the strategy’s support for start-ups was welcomed by the FDF, too.
“We’re pleased to see measures which support innovation, encourage the development of skills and look to boost trade,” Wright said.
‘Joined-up policy approach’
“We look forward to the launch of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs [DEFRA]-led Food and Farming plan, and urge government to deliver a joined-up policy approach which considers the UK’s entire food and drink supply chain and ensures our growing population continues to have access to safe, high quality, nutritious and affordable food.”
The prime minister was expected to reveal the plan after her first regional cabinet meeting, held in the north-west of England. It was expected to be based around a 10-point plan.
The key points were thought to include support for business growth and developing world-leading sectors. See the box below for the full 10-point plan.
Meanwhile, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) hailed the prime minister’s industrial strategy as “a landmark opportunity” to plan business post-Brexit. It welcomed the government’s intention to involve all sectors in the strategy.
Industrial strategy 10 point plan
- Investing in science, research and innovation
- Developing skills
- Upgrading infrastructure
- Supporting business to start and grow
- Improving government procurement
- Encouraging trade and inward investment
- Delivering affordable energy and clean growth
- Cultivating world-leading sectors
- Driving growth across the whole country
- Creating the right institutions to bring together sectors and places