WHAT does does it mean when George Osborne signs the Sheffield City Region deal at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Rotherham today?
I think you should ask the parents of the young people at the Apprentice Training Centre that is an integral part of the future world of advanced Manufacturing. If you can’t take the blast of affirmation that the question will elicit, just have a look around the park. It looks more like a place that the Thunderbirds are build on than what you would imagine of a transformed coal coking paint.
You’ll have to switch off your Northern Powerhouse cynicism and just believe, if only for a moment, that the UK really can reboot its manufacturing prowess and get some high paying jobs under its belt.
This devolution deal has at its core the development of the next phase of infrastructure to keep the Island growing in the way the UK needs. So this is a bloody big deal for the people of the region.
It has meant putting aside some of the old score that the Prime Minister mentioned.
It has meant accepting a metro mayor to go across the old boundaries.
It has meant for labour politicians accepting, for the good of the people, A deal from a Tory government.
So it is a time for us to believe again in ourselves and what our young people are doing. But it is, in the words of Churchill, only the beginning of the end of our problems. It is a signal that we have seen and starting building the way forward.
We shall develop a complete Advanced Manufacturing innovation district, crossing the boundaries of the cities to build complete capability for High Value Manufacturing. This will be unique in the world and be a true new industrial revolution.
This is no dream, as the AMRC has already attracted inward investment in aerospace, nuclear and healthcare. It has the most talented of manufacturing innovation at its core able to pull on the resources it needs from its Mother University. It now need to build the scale and capacity to construct major parts of the worlds future manufacturing
needs: in High speed rail, in next generation automotive, in a new generation of smart compact nuclear reactors.
You will see more and more young people, from across the region develop the wonderful careers that manufacturing can offer at this place. So celebrate, breathe a sigh or two, and the join us building the future the UK needs.
• Professor Sir Keith Burnett FRS is Vice-Chancellor of The University of Sheffield which is home to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and a member of the Prime-Minister’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology.