The time is now

David Noble, Group CEO, Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply
11 November 2014

David Noble, CIPS CEOThe CBI has published an interesting strategy document with AT Kearney on how the UK’s manufacturing sector can only get stronger if there is robust and immediate action to bolster supply chains as the lifeblood of the industry.

Coming from a manufacturing background myself and having seen the erosion of this sector’s importance in national GDP, I was intrigued to learn that the sector is experiencing a resurgence and has been performing well against services and construction.

The stronger sub-sectors in manufacturing – automotive and aerospace – have reported great successes in recent years. Now we can add life sciences as another sub-sector keen to propel manufacturing into the future as a vital component of the UK’s economic recovery. This is especially valuable as it appears the UK’s recovery is currently the most robust in the eurozone, surpassing even Germany.

As the report highlights, the worldwide recession – the deepest and longest we’ve experienced in half a century – has seen businesses in every country examining their supply chains. The report lists six challenges for manufacturing, including investment in research; skills uplift; more flexibility and dynamism in supply chains; sourcing critical materials; a long-term view; and the importance of value, not just cost.

The report goes on to suggest that these goals to regenerate supply chains can only be achieved by funding higher levels of research and development, addressing skills shortages in the sector; and bolstering supportive or foundation industries such as metals, plastics and chemicals. On the skills side, with apprenticeships becoming popular again, we can soon expect higher levels of manufacturing workers than the current 8 per cent of the UK workforce. The critical skills challenges in science, technology, engineering and maths are also being addressed.

It’s not just the CBI that believes manufacturing’s time is now. The chief economist at the Office for National Statistics has also highlighted the sector’s performance. Productivity has risen by around 2.8 per cent each year since 1948 and the ONS also claims there has been a significant increase since the 1990s, even though the number of workers has fallen by 
60 per cent. Compare that with the services sector, which makes up three-quarters of the economy and has shown an average 1.5 per cent growth per year in the same period.

We may soon see a new era of manufacturing dominance in the UK, which I for 
one will be applauding.

Lifelong learning – enhanced

You will by now have heard that CIPS received the go-ahead from Her Majesty’s Privy Council for the proposed changes to CIPS Charter and Bye-Laws.

This means that we can now change the institute’s name to The Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, and from January 2015 CIPS can offer Chartered Procurement & Supply Professional status for suitably qualified and experienced members.

This is excellent news after a long period of consultation and discussion, where the proposals were challenged with some quite robust debate both for and against. All this helped to formulate how chartered status would look and feel, and the routes to this enhancement to membership.

Many professional bodies already offer chartered status, but this journey was never about keeping up with others. What it’s about is the continued advancement of our profession, and while MCIPS remains our benchmark grade and the professional licence and FCIPS our highest grade of membership and advanced professional licence, business leaders and organisations worldwide can be confident that holders of the new chartered status are committed to be the best in our profession.

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