Jaguar Land Rover – the new industrial saviour
WHAT welcome news is Jaguar Land Rover’s decision to invest in the creation of 1,000 new jobs at its plant in Solihull.
The news – following quickly on its announcement of a new £355m engine plant in Staffordshire – underlines both the company’s commitment to growth and its commitment to the West Midlands in general.
Experts believe the new jobs could help to create an additional 3,600 in the automotive supply chain, further buoying the region’s economy.
At a time when the manufacturing recovery in other parts of the country is beginning to run out of steam, many will be looking at the West Midlands with envious eyes – and so they should.
This region is criticised for many things – sometimes justified, sometimes not – but its manufacturing industry should not be one of them.
The legacy of powerful unions at loggerheads with intransigent management is thankfully a thing of the past and all sides now recognise the benefits of working together.
The long-term strategy of Tata to invest in the business while allowing its innovative designers a free hand to shape its future direction is an enlightened approach which is set to deliver major benefits.
The support network around the expansion is also taking shape and for the first time in a long time, there is a genuine optimism for an integrated manufacturing strategy.
Government support for the supply chain has been forthcoming; backed by the designation of the i54 site in South Staffordshire – home of the new engine plant – as an enterprise zone.
Funding for the development of a new generation of cleaner, more efficient engines has also been supplied by both the UK and EIB, which will in turn, help to sustain the expansion and deliver environmental benefits.
Perhaps with all the investment that’s set to flow into the region over the next decade some should be set aside for a statue of Ratan Tata; every bit the saviour of the UK’s industrial heartland as Boulton and Watt.