Michael Davis, chief executive of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), has urged UK manufacturing businesses to be more ambitious and invest in high-value strategies and skills to drive economic growth and job creation.
Mr Davis told senior manufacturing leaders at a BAE Systems event this month that for the UK to assert a stronger advantage in the world economy, more investment is needed from employers and individuals, the "right economically valuable skills" must be developed and more jobs and opportunities must exist for the unemployed.
Just 44% of UK manufacturing businesses operate "advanced, high-value" strategies, which emphasise engineering instead of "simply producing products to a pre-determined specification", he said.
That percentage that is below the average for all industries, however, the importance of manufacturing in the UK is reflected in its £47k gross value added (GVA) average per worker, which compares favourably with £41.6k for the UK as a whole.
Mr Davis went on to say 18% of all manufacturing jobs vacancies were due to a lack of skills, qualifications or experience compared to 16% nationally. A related statistic shows that 20% of manufacturing firms report gaps in the skills of their workforce compared to the national average of 19%, he added.