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Since their introduction in 1988, the number of young people achieving five GCSE A* to Cs including English and maths has risen from 35 per cent to 58.3 per cent (2010/11). Yet whilst GCSE pass rates have increased year-on-year this has not been translated into attainment levels seen by businesses.
What will a future economy constrained by access to raw materials that we now take for granted look like ? Accessing and securing raw materials has risen quickly up the manufacturing agenda. Earlier this year EEF surveyed executives across Industry to find out what they perceived as the biggest threats to growth. The Eurozone crisis? Access to finance? Accessing the right skills? Surprisingly 80 per cent of respondents said access to raw materials was a risk to growth. One in three said it was their top risk.
This is the third of three blogs which develops and extends my recent Birmingham Post column on 'onshoring' opportunities in manufacturing which can be found here.
Earlier blogs on this theme can be found here and here.
One of the more interesting efforts at relocalising auto component sourcing is the work by the Automotive Council (the joint industry-Government partnership) to map the supply chain's relative competitiveness and to identify opportunities where capabilities can be retained and built upon, looking at manufacturers' sourcing 'wish lists', and where suppliers envisage growth.
Its 2011 report identified over £1 billion worth of potential contracts which auto manufacturers would like to place in the UK. Building on such trends, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has tried to bring together assemblers and suppliers to see how they can be 'matched up'.
Young people across the country will today be receiving their A-level results, hoping that the big brown envelope brings the results they need to go to university, begin an apprenticeship or enter full-time employment.
This is the second of three blogs which develops and extends my recent Birmingham Post column on 'onshoring' opportunities in manufacturing which can be found here. The first blog in this series can be found here. Part 3 is on Friday.
As highlighted in earlier blogs, for various reasons the possibility of repatriating certain manufacturing activities - and especially the sourcing of some components back to the UK - does offer potential, particularly in terms of rebuilding some of the UK's fractured supply chains.
The latter has been identified by researchers - such as those at the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) - as a key weakness of the UK's manufacturing base. Froud et al (2011: see here), for example, note that in the UK's largely foreign owned branch assembly plants, broken supply chains effectively undermine high British content and limits domestic backward linkages.
This is an expanded and updated version of my recent column in the Birmingham Post on the UK's recent GDP figures.
"Disappointing" was George Osborne's reaction to the recent GDP figures showing a 0.7% decline in national output in the second quarter. "Shockingly bad" might be a more apt description.
Of course, the fact that GDP fell again shouldn't really have come as too much of a surprise. The Bank of England had anyway predicted that Jubilee bank holidays would negatively impact on quarterly growth.
Factor in dismal weather and an already double-dipping economy (down by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2012 and 0.4% in the final quarter of 2011) and a contraction of around 0.5% was anyway in the offing - as Capital Economics had predicted. But a fall of 0.7% was jaw-droppingly shocking.
A week or so ago I spent some a small amount of time with two groups of sports administrators and coaches from China in the UK for the Olympics but spending spend a little time away from London to get a sense of how sport is organised and promoted elsewhere. The two groups - from the province of Zhejiang and from the booming port city of Ningbo - met with the City Councils Sports and Events Team at the Alexander Stadium.
This is the first of three blogs this week which develops and extends my recent Birmingham Post column on 'onshoring' opportunities in manufacturing which can be found here. Part 2 is on Wednesday and Part 3 on Friday.
'Offshoring' and 'outsourcing' have dominated much of the discourse on British manufacturing over the last decade, with many UK-based manufacturing firms shifting sourcing to low-labour cost locations such as China, with the latter running hefty trade surpluses with the UK.
But in recent years this shift of activity overseas has cooled and there have been some tentative signs of 'onshoring', in certain sectors at least, as the factors which propelled such outward shifts, notably low labour costs, have been eroded.
The UK's manufacturing supply chain has attracted considerable attention in recent years, especially as a factor in major decisions over where to locate inward investment. As many manufacturers across the West Midlands will be the first to admit, especially the larger ones, the supply chain is one of the most critical areas of their business.
The UK's deficit on trade in goods grew to £10.1 billion in June, with exports down by 8.4% and imports by 1.2%. The deficit was well in excess of what had been predicted, and was the worst figure since the current run of trade statistics began in 1997.
The £10.1bn deficit in trade in goods was only partially offset by a £5.8bn surplus on services. Moreover, the trade gap for the second quarter (which gives a better picture of trade trends than volatile monthly figures) rose from £7.8bn to £11.2bn. In the three months to June, the overall value of exports fell by 2.7%, while imports were largely stable.