Gaydon, United Kingdom: Jaguar Land Rover, the UK’s leading manufacturer of premium vehicles, today recommended that the Government continues to support measures to enhance innovation and engineering skills to ensure Britain’s future manufacturing competitiveness.
Mike Wright, Executive Director at Jaguar Land Rover, encouraged Ministers and business leaders gathered at the 2013 BIS Manufacturing Summit to make innovation the Government’s key economic priority in the future to offset challenges facing UK manufacturers.
In an opening address to the third annual summit, Wright thanked Ministers for their support of UK manufacturing to date but said: “It is investment in innovation that will make the difference to the growth in the UK economy.”
Wright cited Jaguar Land Rover’s track record over the past two years – creating more than 9,000 new jobs and investing almost £10 billion in the UK supply chain – as evidence of the wider economic benefits flowing from a focus on technology and innovation at globally-successful UK companies. But he highlighted the on-going challenge of supplier finance incentives and the shortage of graduate engineers as well as the fact that the UK stands at only 17th in the OECD for R&D support as a percentage of GDP.
“We recognise that Government has been working on these issues but if we are to rebalance and grow the UK economy, we need a continued focus on Government investment support for R&D, improved supplier access to finance – especially for small and medium size enterprises – and support for more engineering studies and skills-training.
“If our suppliers cannot access the right skills, technology and finance, then they may not be able to invest as much in the UK as we would all like,” he added.
“Engineering-led businesses like Jaguar Land Rover need the education system to deliver a high quality, up-to-date technical education so young people can join our business and our supply chain with relevant skills. If schools can promote STEM subjects and offer every pupil the opportunity to develop knowledge of electronics, systems and computer-aided design, they will better reflect modern industry. This will also help to inspire and encourage them to consider a career in engineering and manufacturing.”
Mike Wright’s speech comes amid continued strong demand for its latest-generation vehicles, particularly the Range Rover Evoque and the all-new Range Rover flagship model. Innovation and manufacturing quality in such vehicles has generated export revenues of almost £25 billion over the past two years.
The company is expected to re-emphasise its commitment to UK investment and manufacturing at the forthcoming Geneva international auto show, showcasing its latest models for sale around the world.