By Max Clarke

The UK’s leading advanced manufacturers and Government met today to discuss how to work together to promote manufacturing excellence, challenge perceptions of the industry and dispel the myth that Britain doesn’t make anything anymore.

While the UK is a world leader in making high-tech products and the latest figures show that manufacturing growth has reached a 16-year high, there is concern that the outdated image of the sector is restricting its ability to attract the best talent creating a barrier to growth.

To help address these challenges Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have asked UK businesses manufacturing cutting edge products to throw open their doors for a day to students and teachers. This week-long national event would be the first of its kind and will offer an exciting insight into engineering and manufacturing.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

"I want our young people to see that British manufacturing offers well-paid and rewarding careers. Not many of them will know that many electrical engineers are almost as well paid as lawyers and solicitors.

"Throwing open the doors of our factories to the engineers of tomorrow will show them the satisfaction of making things is hard to beat."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

"I was shocked to hear that a recent survey found 49 per cent of 7 to 11-year-olds think it would be boring to be an engineer. They could not be more wrong.

"That’s why Government and industry agree that we have to improve the image of manufacturing if we are to attract the brightest and best into industry.

"Holding a factory doors open week will help us dispel the myth about engineering jobs, and show they are challenging, exciting and well paid."

Today’s event and responses to the Manufacturing Framework will feed into the Advanced Manufacturing strand of the Government’s Growth Review which will announce policy proposals at Budget 2011.

There was a boost for industry when Skills Minister John Hayes announced today a new National Skills Academy (NSA) for Composites and Biotechnology. The Academy, which will form part of the National Skills Academy for Process Industries, will receive up to £1.98 million of funding over three years, matched by employers. It will work with employers, the Life Sciences Advisory Council, the National Composites Centre and specialist training providers to develop new professional standards and training programmes that meet the fast evolving skills needs of these hi-tech industries.