Sweeping generalisations about the demise manufacturing are the breeding ground for bad decision making. Sure some products should be made overseas. Sources of competition are in design – manufacturing, technology, supply chain, value engineering and our ability to work together. At present extended supply chains are very fragile at responding to falling demand, causing many business failures, far more its about using regional manufacturing supply chain and design as tools for effective working capital management and serving local markets. An award winning UK electronics manufacturing plant I ran could compete globally where labour costs were <20% of the value add, and I focussed the entire engineering team on value engineering and taking labour out accordingly.
Automotive requires a short supply chain that cannot be served from the far east, and with rising near east costs manufacturing are forcing sourcing products with high labour content to N Africa, and or back to the UK.
Its about how you arrange these elements of the supply chain that creates a position of competitive advantage, and manufacturings position in that chain justified accordingly.
Skills shortages – are a hidden element as many people have been absorbed back into the economy. To get these people back into manufacturing – the opportunity and the management of these organisations need to address the “attractiveness gap” to make the organisations attractive career choices and places to work.