The TUC has called for the government to set a target for a million new manufacturing and hi-tech jobs by 2030.
The union said too little progress had been made on the government’s flagship Industrial Strategy policy and this could be remedied by creating more jobs, improving workers’ pay and investing in technology and manufacturing.
Its report, All Tomorrow’s Jobs, looks at industrial policy in the UK, Germany, Italy and the EU, and sets out five priorities that will help the UK meet its targets:
- A third of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, the government’s £4.7 billion promised investment in research and development, should be directed towards projects “which are known to provide quality employment”.
- Local Enterprise Partnerships should be required to develop local growth strategies based on their specific strengths and work with trade unions at a local level.
- There should be more investment in mid-career workers to make sure there are ongoing career opportunities throughout the next wave of technological disruption. Workers should have access to a mid-life training review.
- There should be greater engagement with trade unions as the government further develops the Industrial Strategy (currently there is only one trade union representative on the Industrial Strategy Council).
- After the UK leaves the EU, the UK must retain barrier-free, tariff-free, frictionless trade, ideally with continued membership of the single market and customs union.
The TUC also demands that there is a twice-yearly review into how many roles are created through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Currently around 2.6m people in the UK work in manufacturing, and the sector accounts for around 70% of R&D investment.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Too many parts of Britain have been held back by a lack of decent jobs. They deserve better.
“That means businesses, government and trade unions working together, locally and nationally, to bring hi-tech industries to more places across the UK.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We are getting on with delivering the modern industrial strategy with record levels of investment in R&D, the fastest growth in infrastructure spending in the G7, the biggest shakeup to technical education in a generation and sector deals to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.
“The independent Industrial Strategy Council is holding the government to account by monitoring the success in delivering the industrial strategy and its impact on the economy.”