The impact of universities on the economy inBusiness HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT

The impact of universities on the economy
“GROWTH REQUIRES world class products
and processes. Britain has world class universities
and research infrastructure and we now need to
make the most of these attributes. Do that and the
prospects for long term growth will be bright”
IT IS very pleasing to see some positive figures
indicating a recovery in UK manufacturing.
Unfortunately the improved manufacturing PMI
figures have not translated into a large upswing in
recruitment in the manufacturing sector. In short,
it is largely a jobless recovery.
Currently, most manufacturers are able to
respond to increased demand without recruiting,
in large part due to spare capacity built up during
the recession.
As margins have been squeezed, many
manufacturers have looked to recruit specialist
operations managers who are tasked solely with
reducing costs and lead times. The focus is on
recruiting people who allow manufacturers to
improve their service, as in the short-term, this is
the only way they can increase the price they
comments Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya,
Director of WMG.
Every nation aims to be an innovation-led
economy, but Britain must make careful choices to
get the most out of our scientific research. Over the
Jonathan Lee, Chairman, Jonathan Lee
Recruitment comments on the February
Market/CIPS manufacturing Purchasing
Managers’ Index figures
A promising trend is that manufacturers are
looking to recruit people in ‘advanced
manufacturing engineering roles’: i.e. preproduction design and new product development
roles. We’re hopeful that once these new
programmes and products reach the
manufacturing stage, firms will then look to recruit
more widely.
When manufacturers start to recruit in earnest
they will almost certainly face competition for the
best candidates, especially among the younger
workforce, where a skills shortage exists. Until
apprentice schemes return to the levels of the
past there will still be a skills shortage in
manufacturing and engineering in this country.
last decade British science has enjoyed a significant
increase in research funding and now we must
ensure we drive applied research and development
projects like technology demonstrators, incubators
and low carbon research.
When Ministers have asked me for advice on
R&D, I’ve a simple message - “If British companies
do not invest in exciting new technologies and
products, companies in other countries will”. We
conduct research that can inspire business leaders
to invest in the future of their industries. There is a
clear role for universities in applying their skills,
knowledge and insights to business and technology
Innovation always involves venturing into the
unknown and there can be no guarantee of
success, but risk is at the very core of innovative
research. If Britain is to grow it has to develop an
attitude of embracing risk.
This can be done by supporting innovation
anywhere it can be found – in businesses,
universities, corporate research labs or the work of
young entrepreneurs. We need a culture change so
that knowledge transfer is central to academic life.
We must bring manufacturers, researchers and
customers together so they can share ideas to
improve products.
For thirty years, WMG has been carrying out
inEducation in association with
world class research to improve the
competitiveness of companies through the
application of value adding innovation, new
technologies and skills deployment, bringing
academic rigour to industrial and organisational
practice. An academic department within the
University of Warwick, we were founded on our
collaboration with industry and business. Our
success is the result of cutting edge research and
effective knowledge transfer working with
companies on a global scale.
We are an international role model for how
universities and business can successfully work
together, having always seen the match between
industry/business and academic research.
Companies within the automotive, aerospace,
defence, healthcare, energy & utilities, food & drink,
construction and pharmaceutical sectors have been
collaborating with us to produce innovative
products and processes since 1980.
We must not let research breakthroughs from
British universities be transferred from the laboratory
to the wider world by others. We must help
innovative companies and researchers to develop
scientific and economic goals together, and back
their efforts to take their successes to the