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Siemens industry chief predicts manufacturing `renaissance`

02 July, 2009

Juergen Maier, managing director of Siemens’ Industry division, predicts that the UK manufacturing sector is set for a “mini-renaissance”, with its share of GDP rising from 13% to 15-16% within a decade.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Maier argued that Britain was one of the most competitive locations for manufacturing in the world and gave four main reasons for his predicted expansion in manufacturing: greater political backing for the sector; improved productivity; a slowdown in offshoring; and a weaker pound.

Maier (above), who sits on the Government’s Manufacturing Advisory Group and helped to draw up Lord Mandelson’s industrial policy, believes that the government will give far more support to manufacturing than it has over the past 20 years. “Both main parties have realised that manufacturing and engineering have to form a stronger part of a balanced UK economy,” he told the Financial Times.

Maier cited Siemens’ drives factory in Congleton as an example of the productivity improvements achieved in the UK. “The Congleton workforce has known for 15 years that they are competing with China,” he said. “They have responded magnificently.” A decade ago he would have said it was “probable” that drives production would be transferred from Congleton to China. “If you ask me today, I would say the chance is small.”

Maier added that the key to remaining competitive was to innovate and to stimulate schoolchildren`s interest in engineering.

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