Theresa May puts her cards on the table
THE UK’s government will pick winning areas in the economy to champion as part of an industrial strategy aimed at boosting Britain’s productivity as the country prepares to leave the EU.
Announcing the long-promised plan yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May said she wanted to see “sector deals” to identify and address barriers to expansion in different industries. The government also aims to target areas where it thinks the UK could excel in the future, including biotechnology, artificial intelligence, and mobile networking. Ministers will hold a cabinet meeting in north-west England to emphasise their desire to help parts of the country that have sometimes be left behind by industrial shifts.
The strategy “will be underpinned by a new approach to government, not just stepping back, but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success,” May said.
May has placed the industrial strategy at the heart of her effort to define her government beyond Brexit. The plan, subject to a public consultation, aims to draw together policies on transport, education, telecommunications, energy and construction to ensure businesses have the skills, links and access to supplies needed to expand and diversify.
The strategy is “about the economy of the future, it’s about ensuring that business can grow and is encouraged to grow in the UK,” May said on Thursday in a television interview. “It’s also about ensuring that the benefits of prosperity are available across the whole country, we see that economic growth and prosperity for everyone.”
Among areas targeted for government help is technical education. May will announce £170 million (R2.85 billion) for new institutes, teaching science, technology, engineering and maths, that will provide high school graduates with the skills demanded by local employers. May also aims to boost teaching of those subjects in universities, as well as maths in high schools.
“We know we’re going to have to compete and have the chance to compete with countries around the world,” business secretary Greg Clark said yesterday in a BBC television interview. “It’s an increasingly competitive world. You get no quarter if you’re not productive. We’re less productive than even our neighbours – France and Germany – for example, and that’s something we need to address.”
May’s focus on technical education is likely to please businesses. A survey released on Saturday of 800 members of the Institute of Directors, a business lobbying group, found that their top policy priority is a long-term skills strategy, with three-quarters of companies saying it’s “very important.” Infrastructure improvements and better broadband were their second and third choices. – Bloomberg
The prime minister also aims to boost teaching of those subjects in universities
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos in this file photo. She wants to see “sector deals” to identify and address barriers to expansion in different industries.