The extent to which the UK and most of the rest of the Western world are currently mismanaging our economies clearly has a huge financial cost. In the longer term, however, the political cost will be even greater than the economic price - unless we see radical changes in policy. The failure of the West to deliver a reasonable economic performance - combined with the related problem of widespread inability to get difficult decisions taken - has led an increasingly large number of people across the world to consider whether more authoritarian of running modern diversified economies might work better than those based on liberal democracy.
Supposedly manufacturing-free regions of the UK seem to actually have rather a lot of people making things. I know it's frustrating for the headline writers who would rather it wasn't the case, but the North West employing 340,000 people and making £20billion of goods in 2013 just doesn't follow the narrative does it? And what are 125,000 Geordies doing making £6.4 billion of stuff? I thought the paper said they were all strolling around the Quays pissed up and half naked in all weathers. British manufacturing is alive, it's well, it's kicking and it's cool.
If we could rebalance our economy so that we could pay our way in the world, removing the constraints which are the cause of the lack of sufficient job opportunities in the UK, there is no reason why we should not be able to get back to around 3% unemployment, reducing the true numbers for those out of work over a period of time from nearly five million to perhaps one million.
The Chancellor has his sights set firmly on driving economic recovery, and a central component of the plan is his target to increase the value of annual UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020. This equates to approximately a 100% increase from where we currently stand, and there is little disagreement that it is an exceptionally tall order...
With the UK's construction sector growing at its fastest pace since 2003, the renewed optimism being spoken of is coming to fruition. As an SME operating in the manufacturing sector, it's fair to say that we are seeing a dramatic increase in enquiries and orders from the housing sector in particular, a growth which can be attributed in part to the Government's Help to Buy scheme.
The IAC is giving learners something they have not had before - a national voice. The changing landscape of apprenticeships in this country, as Government endeavours to secure the vocational route as a central pathway into fulfilling careers, requires input from those who will be affected - the apprentices themselves.