Thoughts on the Modern Industrial Strategy

The Government published its modern Industrial Strategy on Monday, setting out a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK. The plan details how we will help businesses create better, higher-paying jobs in every part of the UK, with investment in the skills, industries, and infrastructure of the future. Since the financial crash, our productivity performance has been slow and has held back people’s earning power. Through a long-term partnership between government, businesses, and local leaders, the UK will kick-start its own productivity growth and lead the global economy in technological advancement.

Research and development is a major driver of productivity and the Government has committed to raising investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Spending on infrastructure is being boosted with funding focused on delivering clean energy and spreading 5G digital connectivity across the country. £406 million is also being invested in maths, digital, and technical education, this investment is vital to ensure we are equipping students with the necessary skills to thrive in the workplaces of the future. STEM and digital skills are essential to the UK, not only just within technology firms but across virtually all other industries. South Devon UTC is one of few excellent educational establishments already focusing on addressing this skills gap.

As well as improving our productivity, the Industrial Strategy also outlines how the UK can be at the forefront of global technological developments. The UK is rated one of the most innovative countries in the world and recognised as a global leader in science and research, this Industrial Strategy will work to ensure that our strengths in research and innovation translate into a boost in productivity and earning power. There are four key areas in which Britain can lead; in artificial intelligence and big data, clean growth, the future of mobility, and in meeting the needs of our aging population.

If widely adopted AI could add £232 billion to the UK economy (around 10% of GDP) by 2030. A shift to clean growth through the use of low carbon technologies and systems will be supported in key business sectors including power, transport, and construction, to the benefit of business and the environment. The government wants to see fully self-driving cars, without a human operator, on UK roads by 2021. Extraordinary engineering and technological innovation is going to profoundly change how people and goods move around the country. Devon and the South West has a thriving science and technology sector with many fast-growing businesses choosing to set up at Exeter Science Park.

These technological innovations will also be harnessed to help our ageing population. Ageing comes with challenges, including greater caring demands on those working and increased health and social care costs which we are concerned about in the South West. A Healthy Ageing Industrial Challenge Fund programme is being launched to develop new products and services which help older people stay independent for longer, and help deliver better care to those who need it.

Find the full modern Industrial Strategy at