Profound transformation

12 October 2018

The regeneration of a region that once symbolised all that was wrong with industrial relations in Britain was singled out for praise yesterday at the opening of three new research centres close to the site of one of the most bitter battles in modern trade union history.

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP was at the AMRC’s Factory 2050 to officially open the University of Sheffield’s three new multi-million-pound engineering research centres which aim to boost the region’s reputation as a hub for advanced engineering and industrial digital technologies.

Berry told the audience gathered on the gleaming factory floor that he had looked at aerial photographs from 30 years ago which show a derelict and decaying coking plant amid a bleak wasteland. “The transformation has been profound,” he said.

The coking plant in 1984 on the site of what is now the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

Compare that image to today where you have world class global research in the AMRC with international companies like Rolls-Royce, Boeing and McLaren clustering around it. “This is what can be achieved by government, business, research and higher education working closely together at a local level. The former site of the battle of Orgreave in 1984, a symbol of confrontation is now being recognised as an example of collaboration.”

An aerial view of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre taken in 2018.

“The Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District is a perfect example of how public private partnerships can create internationally recognised facilities for engineering, innovation, research and manufacturing excellence and be a catalyst in stimulating advanced manufacturing and engineering capabilities creating highly skilled and high paid jobs.

He told the audience that, in the past, the jobs here were hot, hard and dirty with dust that damaged health and reduced life expectancy. Today we have high-value, jobs that are safe and secure leading us to the ‘economy of the future’.

“This site demonstrates the Northern Powerhouse in action,” Berry added. “When I go to London I am the voice of the North and it is the AMRC I point our Business Secretary, our Chancellor and our Prime Minister to when I talk about what the North can and will achieve if the government gives us the tools to control our own future. And on this historic site, we are ushering in the brightest of futures.”

Earlier, the devolved Sheffield City Region Mayor, Dan Jarvis, told the audience that this “is a city region that is experiencing a renaissance in advanced manufacturing and engineering – for the first time in a generation we have seen a growth in high value manufacturing and engineering roles.  This renaissance is evident in the performance and capabilities of businesses such as Nikken, Metalysis, PES, Magnomatics, Metlase and Iceotope, to name but a few,” Jarvis said.

Like Berry he concluded on a note of optimism. “We should be confident about our future. This is a region with its best days in front of it – rather than behind.

We’re putting in place the right assets, developing the right people and growing and attracting the right businesses. And we’re doing it by focusing on what we’re good at – our capabilities. By doing so we’ll build more resilient businesses – equipped to explore and exploit new and emerging markets – and respond to the challenges of the 21st century.”

For details on the three centres and more on this story; click here.

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