EDITORIAL: More fascinating than a theme park

EDITORIAL: More fascinating than a theme park - It's always mystified me that manufacturing has an inexplicable ability to come over as boring. Over the years, those who make things have not done a great job in selling the attractions of their industry to

by MATTHEW GWYTHER, Editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It's always mystified me that manufacturing has an inexplicable ability to come over as boring. Over the years, those who make things have not done a great job in selling the attractions of their industry to the rest of us. Too many of the stories that emanate from the British manufacturing sector are negative - the difficulty of coping with a high exchange rate, trouble with poor productivity, murderous competition from the Far East.

Too often manufacturers are written off as defeatists who let down our balance of trade while UK plc embraces the service sector ever more firmly.

The truth, however, is that making things is anything but dull. I'll never forget the first time I was taken round a car plant - at Honda in Swindon. It was more fascinating and captivating in its subtle complexity than a theme park - far more interesting than a morning in a PR company or a retail bank.

So, we think you'll enjoy the articles about our new MT Awards for Manufacturing - which replace the familiar Best Factories scheme. This country has its own world-class goods producers and almost all the award winners earn part of their living in unforgiving export markets. Two export electronics to China and others compete with American companies, beating them on their home turf.

The manufacturing sector has contracted dramatically in the UK since the second world war. And in the harsh clear-outs of the past 25 years, many of those jobs have gone to one of the biggest new growth areas - the security industry. Thousands of those who used to work on production lines now sport the caps, badges and walkie-talkies of security guards.

Business has gone into the crime game, taking on many of the tasks that used to be the preserve of the public sector, out on the street, inside prisons and up CCTV poles. In the past 10 years, the turnover of member companies of the British Security Industry Association has gone up threefold to pounds 1.27 billion. The public's demand to feel more secure seems insatiable.

And we're willing to pay to achieve this greater sense of ease. The households of Hadley Wood featured in our 'Business of Crime' feature pay pounds 500 a year each for their 'manned guarding' system.

The sense that the police can't cope on their own is now widespread.

In Middlesbrough, the zero-tolerance 'Robocop' and now mayor, Ray Mallon, has created 100 street wardens, which will give his city the largest community protection force in the country. 'As a tide of litter, graffiti, yobs and muggers blight Britain's streets and public buildings, we in Middlesbrough say: 'We have had enough',' he said. With sentiments like that, the next 10 years will bring another 300% rise in turnover for the security industry.

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