It was the most comprehensive policy on the topic ever held by the party - and it was developed and proposed by the West Midlands Liberal Democrats. Subsequently Vince Cable became business secretary.
A Notes with concern that manufacturing has declined significantly as a share of the economy during the period of the current and previous governments.
B Notes that this has resulted in an increasing over-reliance on the financial services sector.
C Condemns the failures in financial management under successive governments that have made many businesses and employees victims of capital shortages and short-termism.
D Notes with concern the ageing profile of skilled engineers in the
and the risk of serious skills
E Acknowledges the challenges facing manufacturers in developing ideas from concepts through to commercial production.
F Recognises the necessity of a diverse and revitalised engineering sector which is able to embrace the opportunities presented by technological advances in materials, processes and applications.
G Nevertheless celebrates the innovation, creativity and resilience shown by the British manufacturing sector which competes, and frequently leads, in the global manufacturing market.
Conference believes that:
i) Manufacturing is critical to creating a balanced economy and will remain an important source of wealth creation.
ii) Increased emphasis needs to be given to improving the quantity and quality of skills entering the employment market.
iii) It is necessary to build on the foundations of our engineering heritage by seeking to create a sector in which skills move beyond the traditional, enabling us to lead the world in cutting-edge manufacturing and products.
iv) Manufacturing should be encouraged and supported to build the skills and capacity needed to re-engineer the infrastructure of the
as it makes the transition to a
low-carbon economy. UK
Conference welcomes the party's commitment, set out in policy paper 92,
Thriving in a Globalised World, to:
a) Create a better skilled and more flexible workforce by developing apprenticeships.
b) Spread economic opportunities across the
c) Promote research and development.
Conference calls for the following steps to enable
to rebuild a diverse manufacturing sector and support an entrepreneurial
1. The creation of Local Enterprise Funds and Regional Stock Exchanges to provide equity finance and facilitate development of ideas from concept into commercial products.
2. The focus of government support and investment on markets of the future such as those arising from the transition to a low carbon, green economy.
3. Formulation of an integrated approach to the deployment of new technologies, combining academic research and practical knowledge to create real-world products and processes, generating global competitive
advantage for the sector.
4. Alignment of the educational system with the needs of business to ensure the supply of the relevant skills including facilitating co-operation between universities, businesses and entrepreneurs.
5. Encouragement and enabling of young people to learn employment and business skills by removing unnecessary institutional and bureaucratic barriers to them taking part-time paying jobs.
6. Empowerment of local authorities to co-operate in regional or sub-regional economic groups to create business support systems appropriate to the sectoral and local business needs of their area.
7. The revival of the Co-operative Development Agency to generate, with other relevant bodies, the customer and/or employee ownership of viable businesses in the mutual sector especially manufacturing.