Manufacturing Mantra – Part 1

02 Dec

Repeat this mantra after me –

We need to make things that people want to buy.

Keep repeating until it is lodged securely in your brain.

On Question Time last night, after they’d wasted time slagging off Jeremy Clarkson, the panel spoke about the inflexibility of education and the academic cul-de-sac which it has arrived in. Too many of our young people leave school with no job to go to or leave Uni with a bit of paper, which doesn’t fit with employer’s requirements. Not to worry though because Call me Dave has a plan. Manufacturing is going to be our saviour.

It was Margaret Thatcher, of the same political party who declared years ago the a service economy was the thing to do.  Manufacturing was laid waste. The old, traditional skills and crafts were rubbished and sent to the knackers yard or craft fairs. We were told that we couldn’t compete with the emerging economies although other countries similar to our own seemed to manage to do so.

We were to work smarter not harder. High tech. Software, IT, design, money markets, share trading, banking and such like. The sort of work that could be carried out in a pod in a glass box on a business park or in the City, clean, tidy and modern. To be fair there have been successes in some of these areas.

At the same time however, businesses started to export jobs as well. Dyson, the Banks, Telcos, Insurance companies, utilities and “Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.” It was cheaper to do so as long as we ignore the fact that fewer people working in good jobs here means there is less money around to be spent on the products and services these same businesses want to sell.

Inward investment became the by-words for creating new jobs. You encourage foreign businesses to set up shop in the UK and hey presto you create jobs, at a price, with little skill required usually. The UK sent quality jobs over seas and imported low rent jobs in return. Result! Oh, and when things get tight these overseas businesses pack their bags sharpish and head back home. It’s happened often enough for people to know it’s short term you would think? Short memories.

Following the credit crunch Mark1, the shine went off the city. Of course they persist with their silly bonuses, unless you’re on of the ones getting them anyway. Great move there from the people responsible for the credit crunch. In the shorter term at least, the UK still desperately needs the City to generate as much profit as possible to increase tax take or at least try to as the City doesn’t want to pay and is in a good position not to. In the longer term perhaps, not so much.

But now Call me Dave wants us to become a manufacturing nation once again. Make things. Educate people differently so that vocational study has value and engages our young people earlier. Slight fly in the ointment here though. The new manufacturing jobs will be high tech apparently and will require highly educated people. So once again Call me Dave has pulled out the gun, is carefully aiming it and is about to shoot the UK in the foot. Bravo.

In truth it doesn’t matter what we manufacture as long as enough people buy it in enough volumes to make money. Not all of it is going to be high tech so vocational education will be essential in the general mix. The Conservatives don’t seem to think so, new apprenticeships apart anyway.

Remember the mantra from the beginning of this article? It’s a start but it’s needs to be developed a wee bit.

So say after me –

We need to make things, which fulfil needs, and wants, which people will buy.

So it doesn’t matter if it’s a life’s essential (need) or a life’s desire (want) we have to manufacture them so people will buy them.

The mantra still isn’t good enough.

So say after me –

We need to design and make things, which fulfil needs, and wants, which people will buy.

It’s a great pity that Steve Jobs died earlier this year was. If Steve stood for anything it was making niche things, which were well designed, worked fairly well, were desirable and people wanted to buy them.

So the mantra still isn’t good enough then.

So say after me –

We need to design and make things, which fulfil needs and wants and deliver a user experience which people will buy.

BMW personify this. The BMW brand is perceived as being a premium brand and the prices reflect this. They have managed to develop the brand in a direction, which hasn’t been achieved before. A few years ago if you bought a BMW you were buying a degree of exclusivity. There weren’t that many around because they were expensive. Now there are more BMWs on the roads than there are Fords. The quality differences between the BMW and the Ford are negligible. BMW have reduced quality and Ford have increased it but the badge/brand says it all. People pay more for the brand rightly or wrongly.

Part 2 follows on Monday 5 December 2011.


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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Education, Politics


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