DBIS pledges £50m to continue Manufacturing Advisory Service

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Following yesterday's news that the Manufacturing Framework had been scrapped, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has announced an investment of £50 million over three years in the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS).

Business Minister Mark Prisk (picture) says the funding is part of the 'Growth Review Framework for Advanced Manufacturing', launched today. It will, he says, enable MAS to keep providing its "highly valued advice service to industry, making SMEs more productive and competitive". Prisk explains that the review will examine how the UK can "remove the barriers that are preventing the UK becoming Europe's leading exporter of high value goods". He also indicates that it will look at what stops people from seeking a career in engineering. DBIS says that, in January, it will hold an advanced manufacturing summit attended by Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Mark Prisk, as well as key manufacturing stakeholders and other government departments. The indication is that contributions from industry at this event, and from responses to the framework, will feed into the advanced manufacturing strand of the government's growth review, which will announce policy proposals by Budget 2011. "A strong manufacturing base is essential for a balanced economy, where exports and investment drive growth, not debt and unsustainable government spending," asserts Prisk. "The review into advanced manufacturing will see the government align with industry in our shared ambition to put manufacturing industries on a more solid footing than in the past decade. "I am looking forward to the manufacturing summit, which will be an opportunity to agree actions that government, industry and education can take over the next 10 years to meet our challenging ambitions." Meanwhile, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber believes that tight timeframe for the review must force difficult choices. "Advanced manufacturing is essential to promote growth in the UK and rebalance the economy. However, the short timescale for this initiative means the government must concentrate on a few key targets," says Barber. "Boosting green manufacturing should be an immediate priority, and harnessing procurement to support British industry is another area where a quick win is possible," he adds. In other news, DBIS is also contributing £600,000 for a two year automation and robotics programme to be developed and run by the Engineering and Machinery Alliance (EAMA) and the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA). The programme will better prepare companies to introduce new automated/ robotic systems and help them operate them effectively.