EEF National Conference 2015

Tom Moran, Business Development Manager for Manufacturing and Engineering localisation solutions, tells us about his experience at the EEF National Conference last week.

I am writing this as I hurtle through the English countryside in a metal tube, probably built by the French, using a laptop built in China, on a mobile phone made in Taiwan, and it becomes clear that the good old British Manufacturing industry could do with a kick in the pants. That is exactly why some of the greatest minds in Manufacturing and Engineering (M&E) came together for the EEF National Conference 2015 at QEII in Westminster.

The EEF is the UK’s largest Manufacturing and Engineering association and has roughly 50% of all M&E firms in the UK as members, so it’s fair to say they have their ear to the ground with the industry.

The event consisted of Keynote speakers and interactive panel discussions from the likes of Ian Isaac (Head of Lombard), Nicola Slater (Williams F1), Tony Walker (MD, Toyota UK), Brian Holliday (Siemens UK).

We even had some treats from the celebrity world including Politics TV stars Ed Miliband and Matt Hancock MP, giving the predictable pre-election ‘vote-for-us’ speeches. We even got a special message from chief politician David Cameron, beaming down from the huge screen via video link, Orwellian-style -‘LONG TERM ECONOMIC PLAN, LONG TERM ECONOMIC PLAN, LONG TERM ECONOMIC PLAN’.

Whilst Martin Wolfe (Chief Economic Commentator for the Financial Times) was telling us about the numbers behind the past, present and future of the industry with phrases like – ‘GDP deficit’ ‘current account deficit’ ‘borrowing binge’ and ‘resource envelope’ – the thing that stuck out for me was his predictions on future markets. China, although slowing its incredible growth-rate, will be by far the most important market in the next decade, along with India. ‘But what about Brazil and Russia, the rest of the BRIC nations?’ asked Steph McGovern (also off the telly). His response that his friend Jim O’Neil, who coined the BRICS phrase, ‘only added the B and the R so it was easier to say’ got a very British chuckle from the crowd. This is interesting though; Business Development Managers have had an eye on these markets for the last couple of years because of that very phrase. But his expert opinion is that Brazil and Russia just aren’t living up to their potential, and he doesn’t see them being a major player in the coming decades.

Aside from the political point-scoring, the key message of the day was that there is a ‘Manufacturing Renaissance’ afoot for Great Britain, and it really does feel like there is.

There has always been an opinion that we’re good at ideas and innovation, but we then hand it over to other countries to manufacture which has certainly been true since the dawn of globalisation. One solution that was shared by everyone in the room, and something that I have always felt strongly about, is apprenticeships. When I was at school, apprenticeships were only suggested to those who were not on the path to university, as a last resort option, and I hugely resent the fact that it wasn’t presented properly to us. That is now starting to change and some of the country’s largest, most exciting companies are working with universities and schools to rebuild the apprenticeship reputation and inspire young people. If Williams F1 had come into my school when I was 14, held a few work-shops and factory tours and asked if I wanted to build race cars and travel the world they would have had me there and then. Perceptions are changing, but there is a lot of work still to be done before we catch up with the likes of Germany where, for example, a qualified engineer is given the title ‘Doctor’ before their name.

On my way out of the show, I was accosted by someone with a microphone and a camera-man and forced into answering questions about us staying (or leaving) the EU and to say I felt out of my depth is an understatement. Nevertheless, I discussed the services that Capita Translation and Interpreting offer and made my way out through Westminster, down Whitehall in my best suit feeling very important and back onto a train, probably made by the French, using a laptop probably made in China…

 

If you would like to discuss how language services could help your business in the Manufacturing and Engineering arena, do not hesitate to contact Tom: tom.moran@capita-ti.com

Tom

Tom has been part of Capita TI for over 3 years, managing the business development team. His interests are music, books and adventure! (and books about music and/or adventure).

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