Independent analyst, commentator and defence advisor Howard Wheeldon FRAeS has given his stamp of approval to Sharing in Growth. The following has been sent to around 7,400 key influencers in ‘Commentary’, a private email that is read in No 10, Whitehall, Westminster, industry, and the military.
A specialist advisor on all aspects of military and defence in the UK and on domestic and international commercial aerospace industry and aviation related issues, his company Wheeldon Strategic Advisory provides strategic advice and commentary on military, defence and macro-economic issues. Howard is former Director of Policy, Public Affairs and Media at aerospace, defence and security trade association ADS, a keynote speaker and commentator on defence and aerospace primarily on the BBC and Sky News.
Commentary – 28th November 2018
A unique venture set up in 2013 with a mission to drive through delivery of an initial four-year £250 million programme of intensive business transformation to around 64 UK aerospace industry suppliers and, in the process, secure the many thousands of industry jobs through 2020 and beyond, five years since Sharing in Growth UK (SiG) was established I can say without any doubts that what has been subsequently achieved really is quite remarkable.
Regarded by all those that have engaged and that I have personally spoken to as being a great success, in the first four years of SiG contracts attributable to its work worth some £3.2 billion have been awarded to companies that the organisation has worked with and supported. That in itself is a truly remarkable achievement but there is still a lot more benefits to come from the ongoing work of SiG.
Designed from the outset for the purpose of developing and securing high value UK aerospace industry manufacturing for this generation and the next or, to put it another way, create real and lasting benefits right across the UK aerospace manufacturing supply chain, Sharing for Growth (SiG) has been funded through an initial £50 million grant, this later topped up with an additional £30 million grant, from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) together with endorsements and support from industry including large companies such as Rolls-Royce who were an original delivery partner, BAE Systems, Airbus, Leonardo, GE, Bombardier, GKN Lockheed Martin, Thales, Safran, Jaguar Land Rover and others that have a vested interest in requiring a lean and fit for purpose UK supply chain.
SiG is also backed by the Aerospace Growth Partnership’s ‘Supply Chain Competitive Charter’, one that almost all the sector’s leading civil aerospace industry manufacturers and designed to strengthen relationships between the large companies and their suppliers to work more closely together in order to raise productivity and competitiveness. The Aerospace Growth Partnership, another hugely successful organisation, was itself launched in 2012 while the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) which it spawned have, along with SiG, all been the beneficiaries of government investment in order to help grow and support the UK aerospace industry. Each has more than earned its spurs. , Personally speaking, I can say without doubt that it has been a great pleasure for me to observe the huge progress, difference and benefits that SiG has already brought to the UK aerospace industry supply chain over the five years since the programme was first launched. I would also say that this is the first time that I can recollect where a government funded scheme that has made such a huge difference in such a very short space of time for those that signed up to SiG in order to improve their internal efficiency and better compete in what is without doubt a very highly competitive and still fast growing international aerospace market.
As already mentioned, SiG has been funded by the Regional Growth Fund and as we draw towards the end of this first very important four year phase the hope is that, such is the extent of the benefits achieved, that the RGF will continue to fund this hugely important and successful organisation. The point to remember here is that SiG is on course to return the Government’s investment 60 times over whilst, at the same time, creating and growing much-needed high-value employment in the UK. Bottom line is that SiG is providing a clear and practical example of how to beat the huge productivity challenge that the UK across many of its industry faces. It has set the standard of what needs to be achieved and for that reason and with a degree of urgency, it is in my view fully deserving of future Government support and funding.
With the unknowns of Brexit increasing now upon us it is in my view of crucial importance that we redouble our efforts to not only make ourselves as competitive as the best but also protect the industries that we have and where we have achieved such great success in the past. Aerospace is because of the importance of skills and skills retention and the huge benefits that it brings to the economy, top of that list.
Very ably run by CEO Andy Page, Run by The initial approach that SiG took was to seek ambitious aerospace supply chain companies with a turnover between £10m and £100m, to participate a coherent and sustainable four year training and transformation programme, worth £3 million to each qualifying company, with around £1.2 million publicly funded. The supplier’s contribution was not cash but moreover, an investment in time spent on the programme. Within the first three years SiG staff were already engaged helping 40 companies achieve their aim of an average 50% increase in productivity.
What those that signed up received can be summed up as being cross-functional specialists able to tackle complicated areas such as lean operations, manufacturing engineering, procurement and value engineering. In order to sustain a fully integrated transformation programme companies engaged would also be able to work with delivery experts such as Deloitte, Unipart Expert Practices, the National Physical Laboratory, The University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing and Industry Forum, all these organisations being well known in their ability to provide world-class training in leadership, strategy, business planning and performance improvement.
‘Sharing in Growth’ provides a very different approach to the norm and those that signed up to the scheme are supplied with specialist industry leaders and experts who are able to draw on their specific knowledge and expertise in order to resolve issues and logjams that may hinder efficiency of operation and competitiveness. SiG specialists can also be supplemented by professionals drawn from the wider programme.
In a specialist industry such as Aerospace and where the UK is the European leader and global number two, the importance and ability to compete within and increasingly competitive industry is crucial. Having world class capabilities in the manufacture of some of the most sophisticated and high value parts of modern aircraft has created a high-tech, highly skilled industry and one that is rightly regarded as a considerable success. But staying in the lead positions when Brexit and other challenges now have the potential to disrupt, to perhaps weaken our command over the industry, cannot be ignored. That, as I have already suggested, means that UK companies have to redouble their efforts to ensure that they are as or indeed, more efficient and competitive than their peers. It must also take in factors such as quality and preparedness to be innovative.
With 3,000 companies employing an estimated 230,000 employees, both direct and indirect, across the UK aerospace industry sector, all of whom contribute to the massive economic benefits that this industry has long brought to the UK economy and within a growth industry, one that is still expected to double in size over the next 10 years, every available effort to ensure that the UK retains and further grows its position in the world will bring further benefit. The contribution that SiG is making and will hopefully continue to make in the years ahead is something that I sincerely hope that the Government will continue to financially sponsor alongside industry. Get it right, as SiG certainly has done so far and we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
With current average forecasts for the requirement of no fewer than 27,000 new passenger aircraft by 2030 in addition to the 40,000 new helicopters also thought likely to be required, in order to capitalise on such enormous growth opportunities it is recognised that those working within the supply chain, be they direct or indirect, will need to constantly invest in their ability to deliver and drive through improved performance.
The beauty and uniqueness of what SiG provides to me is that the scheme provides concentrated training and development programmes that are specifically tailored to the assessed needs of each supplier and targeted at world class standards of performance. The training and development covers all relevant disciplines, including lean operations, manufacturing processes, purchasing, cost modelling and leadership.