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New £150m Govt strategy to boost manufacturing

The Government today unveiled a new strategy for manufacturing, bringing together £150 million of support for companies.

Ministers said they wanted to help manufacturers get through the current "demanding times" but added there were good reasons to be confident about the future.

The Government said Britain had the open and flexible markets that would allow business to react to the current challenges.

Business secretary John Hutton said: "Manufacturing is central to the success of the UK economy and it is vital the sector has the right foundations to endure the current economic slowdown and emerge stronger and fitter than ever.

"I want the UK to be at the forefront of opportunities opened up by the move towards a low carbon economy."

Mr Hutton said the UK could become world leaders in "green" technologies supporting hundreds of thousands of so-called green collar jobs.

He added: "For many years the industry's success has suffered from a lack of public recognition and it is time we redressed this balance. We must attract more talented young people into the industry and ensure that this talent is nurtured and developed."

The Government announced a new drive to help the nuclear and renewables industries expand in future years which could create up to 260,000 new jobs over the next decade.

Plans were also unveiled for an extra 1,500 manufacturing apprenticeships and other support for skills and training.

There will be a new manufacturing technology centre built in Coventry which ministers hope could lead to £130m-worth of investment in research over the next decade.

A new manufacturing body will also be set up aimed at tempting youngsters into a career in industry.

Unions and industry groups welcomed the announcement and said it was important that the Government continued to support manufacturing.

Engineering Employers Federation chairman Martin Temple said: "The strategy sets out a positive and clear understanding of how manufacturing has restructured itself and the role that it can play as a high-value contributor to a balanced economy.

"The next step as with all such announcements is to deliver and back the positive words with firm actions of intent and support."

The CBI's chief economic adviser Ian McCafferty said: "Determining how UK manufacturing can best take advantage of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century was a much-needed exercise.

"The Government's new framework contains some fresh thinking - with a welcome emphasis on improving manufacturing skills, its public image, technology and the low-carbon economy. It must now deliver on its plans."